Spring is finally here! Although the weather is cool and snowflakes are still falling, this is the perfect temperature for the fruit trees.
When the weather becomes warm too early (as it did in 2012), fruit blossoms open earlier. Blossoms are essentially the beginning stages of the fruit, and are are extremely susceptible to frost (which occurs when temperatures fall below 0°C). The effects of frost vary: a small frost can cause spots to appear on the fruit, while a more severe frost can result in misshaped produce. Extreme frosts can kill the budding fruit all together.
As many of our customers will remember from last season, frost can be detrimental to tree fruit. Cherry blossoms are especially vulnerable. In 2012, approximately 80% of our apple crop was lost due to frost. There is little farmers can do to protect their produce from frosty conditions, but last year Birnam Orchards installed six wind machines. These machines are used to circulate warm air throughout the orchard on chilly nights. Without the wind machines, we probably would have had no crop at all.
We hope that the weather continues to remain cool for a few more weeks to promote optimal growth. Keep your fingers crossed that mother nature will cooperate with us this year. We are looking forward to seeing everyone in July for cherry-picking!