A welcome drought

For those of you in the drought stricken west, be advised that the following may contain disturbing material.

Spring and summer in southeastern NY were excessively wet and combined with a lot of bright warm days between downpours the heavy crop got heavier with very large fruit. And then about 4 weeks ago the spigot got turned way down and in that time we’ve only had a single meaningful rain. Most of the days have been clear and warm, with highs averaging in the mid '80’s. In short, perfect ripening weather.

My own soil is barely moist and the fruit is beginning to benefit as rot issues recede and brix levels rise. I wish I hadn’t lost the instructions to my new portable refractometer because the numbers are bound to be good.

The down side (why is there always at least one down side?) is the birds are pecking the hell out of a lot of the best of my fruit. They may be partially attracted to the quick source of hydration. So far they’ve gone easy on the nectarines and seem much more attracted to the TangO’s and Santa Rosa plums. The SR’s have to be harvested still firm and I can’t leave the TangO’s to get soft and completely deep orange. They’ve not noticed the almost ripe Satsumas which are already as sweet as the ripest SRs so I’m hopeful there as well.

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In my area we also had torrential rain through June and part of July.
We set an all time record for the month of June since recorded history for rain. about 13".

However it stopped and my yard is starting to crack and I am watering today.

So, how’s the fruit doing? Was it destroyed by the deluge or is some ripening nicely now?

The apples are doing great. I have some of the biggest Honeycrisp and Cortland that I have ever seen.
They may be as big as softballs by the ripening date of Sept15.

However the peaches have completely failed, They are hardly bigger than the seed. This is on trees that last year had nice big peaches. Don’t know why the peaches failed but the apples lived.

Alan, I’m glad someone gets to enjoy benefits from a (short) drought.

Down here we were relieved to finally get some heavy rainfall and some respite from the elevated temperatures. We’d only had ~1" of rain since the beginning of June. As much as I kept reminding myself of the benefits of a dry summer, and appreciated how fortunate we were to not have the continuously excessive rainfall that so many here have endured this year, the long term negative effects from the combination of high heat and no rain eventually become very concerning. So, the rains here a few days ago were a great relief.

I’m glad for you guys, and glad that some of that rain and temperature reductions finally found their way here. We’re now enjoying the low 90’s instead of low 100’s.

My summer fruit has been harvested, except for the continuing experimental raspberries. So, my benefits from reduced rainfall are over. One interesting and unexpected attack on fruit that I blame on the drought was on the very few apples that I have hanging. Fire ants had climbed the tree and appeared to have eaten small entrances. When examined, the attacked apples were packed with the fire ants. They had hollowed out a good 10% of the inside and were living and eating away. Those hollows were solid with ants! My supposition is that the apples presented a source of much needed moisture for the nasty critters. Can you imagine biting into an apple and getting a mouthful of those? I found it a frightening thought, since I have young grandchildren who do occasionally pick and eat fruit without permission.

Enjoy your break in the rain. I hope we all get just enough at just the right times for the rest of the year.

Muddy, that is very creepy. I’ve only had a big ant issue when we had an August monsoon a few years back. Continuous rain throughout the east from the mid-Atlantic on up for most of Aug. Farmers with bottom land had their entire crops wiped out. We had good fruit in July and then by mid-Sept anything left on the trees ripened nicely but anything trying to ripen in Aug cracked and was attacked and ruined by ants, but not fire ants. Glad to be north of their habitat.

Daem, sorry you lost your peach crop. Sucks.

Conditions are dry here too. Peaches are fine here. Rain expected this week. Hope it is light, as many of my peaches are close to being ripe. The trees could use the water.
All crops have been impressive, I just harvested about 50 onions, many are huge! The garlic came out awesome too. These are super easy crops to grow.
The blackberries that were early were rather tart from all the rain. The Triple Crown, and even Chester, ripening right now taste really good, super sweet! Chester is supposed to be just OK, not great, but with the low water they came out fantastic! The tomato crop is light for me, but man, again this dry weather is producing excellent tomatoes!

We had heavy heavy rain in May June and July. However Aug. has been dry, which has been nice.

Overall we’ve had a very cool summer here. It hasn’t reached 100F a single day this summer.

All the early rain really screwed up the peach flavor, which has been very inconsistent. Tomatoes have been much more consistent and taste great this year.

Some new summer apples are coming in for the first time. Because it’s the first year, it’s hard to evaluate if they were affected by all the rain, but my guess is not.

Swiss Gormet is a great summer apple BTW.

I would add that TangO’s 2 has a very attractive color that almost looks like ivory when it is truly ripe. I don’t find its flavor very interesting and if I want a real sweet white saucer peach I probably prefer either Saturn or Galaxy but T2 comes a bit later so has its niche for a commercial grower.

One issue not often discussed with peaches but important to the home grower is the duration of the harvests. A commercial grower is served by a variety that ripens all its fruit in a fairly narrow window, but a home grower will generally prefer an extended harvest period. There are a few new varieties that seem to hold onto the tree in a firm-ripe condition for quite a while but most peaches quickly soften and drop once ripe.

Redhaven is a variety that ripens over a long period, which is also true of Madison. Many of the new improved varieties have much shorter spreads. Earnie’s Choice is the best peach in my orchard right now but it will be over very quickly, having the narrowest harvest season of any peach I grow. If you are a grafter and have multiple variety trees this is an asset, but if you have fewer than 5 or 6 varieties of sequential harvest on single trees in your orchard it is not. Along with the quality of the peach and ease of growing one should probably consider the duration of the ripening period when selecting varieties to grow.