A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how rain could be detrimental to the cherry crop as it neared harvest. I’m happy to say that our cherries turned out to be beautiful! I can’t remember the last time we had such quality and flavor. What a blessing!
It is dry though. The absence of rain over the last weeks, while helping the cherries, has put a strain on other crops. Thankfully we have installed drip irrigation on many of our orchards over the last few years. This is a real lifesaver in a dry season. The small trees that we plant these days also have very small root systems. They can’t go out and search for water like the big root systems that the big old trees of the past could. So we have to bring the water to them.And drip irrigation is the most efficient way to do that. The water is deposited directly onto the root area of the tree with very little loss to evaporation. This makes fore a happy tree, even in these dry times!
Why is this so important? The most obvious answer is of course that the trees can produce a nice crop of fruit this year. But there is another aspect to all of this that isn’t as well known. You see, right now the apple trees are planning for next year’s crop. This is the time of year when apple trees are making the buds that will bloom next spring and become the crop for next year. And believe it or not, the trees are making a decision about how big next year’s crop will be! Not of course in the way that we make decisions, but in an equally complicated way. The seeds in every apple on a tree are sending chemical messages to the tree itself about how big the crop is. The chemicals produced by the seeds are called Gibberillins, and they are plant hormones. The tree takes this information and “decides” if it can safely bring this amount of fruit to maturity without becoming stressed and depleting all of it’s energy. If the tree is under drought stress, it will “decide” to not make many buds for next year because it will see tough times ahead. If a tree is healthy and well supplied with water and nutrients, it will make a full crop of buds for next year’s crop.
That is why being able to keep a tree happy during dry times is so important. Not only for this year, but for next year too. And while I have sort of put this in human terms, this process really is happening right now in our apple trees. The trees really are planning ahead for next year! And we are trying to keep them healthy and strong so they can make buds for next year. And just in case you wives are wondering, Gibberillins won’t work on your husbands to make them better planners. If they did, I wouldn’t be waiting until Wednesday night each week to write the Thursday morning blog!
Hope you have a fruitful week!