May 23, 2018
Cool springs set well with fruit tree growers

Stable springs without hard frosts are sitting well for fruit tree growers around the country.

In Washington state, growers are set up for a good growing season.

“A great spring where it isn’t too hot and the bloom did well,” said Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Stemilt, a family-owned tree fruit company based in Wenatchee. We had a couple of strings of days that were wet and windy but overall it has been great. It has been the normal spring we never have anymore. So, it has been cooler.”

Perhaps most importantly, there was no bud-killing frost. As of the second week of May, the Washington growers were looking at a good bloom.

“The bloom was great and it looks like we will have a good-sized crop of larger apples (this year they were small and not ideal harvest conditions last fall),” Pepperl said. “A good crop of large cherries (not a record crop).”

He believes the fruit quality and size profiles will fit what the company needs for sales and marketing.

We think the fruit will be excellent quality and fit the size profiles we need to be successful in selling and marketing,” he said. “We are wildly optimistic so far.”

In Michigan, the cool, long spring is a good sign.

“It’s amazing, but after being three weeks behind in growing degree-days (GDD) a month ago, we are now only three days behind in the general Grand Rapids, Michigan, area,” Michigan State University Educator Amy Irish-Brown wrote in an online update. “Plants have responded to the warmer weather and ample rainfall, but growth has been steady. Early blooming apple varieties are in full bloom and nearing king bloom petal fall. Mid-season apples are in king bloom to nearly full bloom. Later season varieties are still in the pink stage. Many sweet cherry varieties are in full bloom with early flowering cultivars in petal fall. Peaches are in full bloom. Plum and apricot bloom is ending, and fruits are still in the shuck.”

Trees on the Fruit Ridge have been in bloom for a couple weeks. Mark Youngquist of Youngquist Farms near Kent City, said he had luck scheduling bees to arrive in time for the bloom. A spokeswoman for the Michigan Apple committee said the group had been hearing positive reports from growers across the state.

In New York state, trees began to bloom about May 9, according to the New York Apple Association.

However, there’s a wide variation in the timing of the bloom across the state.

“Few things in life are well synchro­nized, least of all tree development during the spring in New York, and this year’s erratic tem­perature trend has intensified the normal dispari­ty shown among the state’s different growing re­gions,” Cornell’s Art Agnello wrote in the weekly newsletter Scaffolds. “The result is that we have trees across the state ranging from full bloom to setting fruits.”

Stephen Kloosterman, FGN Assistant Editor

Above: Flowering fruit trees on the Fruit Ridge in Michigan. Photo: Stephen Kloosterman


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