Well August is being August, hot and muggy, just like July left off! It seems this has been an endlessly warm and humid summer and the forecast doesn’t change much. “What does that do to the fruit?” I’m often asked. “Makes it warm!” is my smart-alecky answer. But seriously folks, it does have it’s effects. A dry summer (which we had up until the last couple weeks) makes fruit sweeter by concentrating the sugars in the fruit.I can attest that cherries and peaches have been fabulous this season! Lots of rain close to harvest can cause fruit to crack open, most often in cherries but also in some varieties of apples. Hot temperatures (90 and up) and a blistering sun can actually sunburn some kinds of apples and do a lot of damage. Some of our favorites like Honeycrisp, Zestar! and Cameo are especially susceptible to that. And we don’t have to even get into what hail and wind can do. We were blessed to not be affected by all of the tornado action last week. But it wasn’t far away, and you can imagine what that would do to an orchard full of fruit! It does remind us what a tentative hold we have on things.
One thing that we look for in the fall are cool nights and sunny days. They are so important to the coloring process in apples. As apples approach maturity, they begin to develop their characteristic color. Cool nights turn on that “switch” in an apple. You can literally see the change in color in some apples after one or two cool nights, and a week of nights in the upper 40’s will turn a green apple to dark red. We had two nights in the low 50’s over the weekend, and the change was noticeable, especially in Galas and Paulareds. But now it’s back to hot days and warmish nights again deterring that color development. So we wait, and hope that the cool crisp nights of fall are not too far away. I know…it’s still August and summer isn’t over yet so I have to be patient. It will come in time, and I’ll enjoy putting a sweatshirt on in the morning. Until then, it’s shorts and a t-shirt and off to work!
Hope you have a fruitful week!