For the three previous seasons most of the growing season in S. NY has been positively Mediterranean, with just enough rain sandwiched between stretches of dry clear days of only moderate heat to serve the fruit grower perfectly. Unfortunately, Mid Feb and April 1st freeze events destroyed much of the fruit crop last year with the little crop on the trees difficult to defend from hungry wildlife (food in the forest was also limited by freezes).
Of course, the blanks thrown last year are followed this year by excessively heavy fruit set and high anticipation of the luscious fruit "bound’ to follow. Unfortunately, we are getting excessive rain- where mud can form we have mud and we’ve yet to see a significant stretch of drying weather. The result is bland on bland- lots of bimbo fruit- beautiful to look at but otherwise boring.
My Alfred apricots are good while a few Tomcots from a young tree nearby were big, beautiful and almost tasteless. My first plums are fine- they always get their sugar regardless of weather. However, peaches are actually getting blander as the season progresses. The first Desirees were fine but now they are becoming tasteless mush and Harrow Diamonds are no better. Even the first Golddust didn’t cut it and Silver Gem nectarines have a nice acid kick but little sugar- so far.
I will come back to this topic when I have more info in a week or two. I’m still optimistic that the rains will relent and our monsoon will dissipate in time for the majority of the harvest to sweeten up. Only early nectarines are cracking so far and August-Sept is what really counts.
It doesn’t take a lot of rain/clouds to mess things up. We’ve had two straight days of no sun and 1.25 inches of rain. That brings our yearly total to ~4 inches. So we’ve gone from constant sun to clouds. Even in my greenhouse on potted figs the fruit has been adversely affected by the cool weather and clouds. The fruit is clearly splitting more, molding more, and getting uglier every day. And that was with half the water they were getting during the sunny weather. The same thing happened last yr. We were hot, sunny, and dry thru July. In August clouds and 6 inches of rain. The figs in my greenhouse went way downhill both in-ground and in pots. The tree fruit was OK. Sugars were built up during the sunny days and just protecting them from the rain was enough to maintain quality. Figs seem to be my indicator fruit.
The funny thing is when I mentioned deficit irrigation to DWN some yrs ago they were like, what??? You must be a funny little old man imagining things. Alan maybe if they tasted some of your fruit right now of varieties they bred they would understand. In the constant sun and 100F heat of a CA summer the fruit is normally water stressed and high brix.
I expect those DWN experts are now aware of the relationship between the amount of irrigation and brix. Farmers markets in CA have many sellers of water deficit produced fruit, from what I’m getting. The foodists are always ready for the next thing and high brix fruit is easy to love by anyone paying attention to what they’ve put in their mouth.
I should have mentioned that the cherries I manage were fine this year besides all the cracking and rot. They still had good sugar.
The sun is back for the second day- I wonder how many days it will take for a noticeable brix uptick.
Anything will help. But my thinking is really high brix isn’t just a drying out near harvest. For tree fruit it’s a long process involving smaller cells and higher levels of carbs built up over months. If I’m right that means smaller fruit. But I think there is a big difference that doesn’t involve much reduction in fruit size. Clouds reduce photosynthesis. That could be part of the issue.
As you know, we are not in complete agreement on this. I think it is beneficial to have ample water early and most benefit in brix comes from summer (and maybe late spring) irrigation deficit. However, you have more experience, although I’m not sure if you’ve studied timing closely. I do know that ample thinning of peaches not only increases brix but also increases fruit size so the outcomes of large size and high brix are not mutually exclusive.
I haven’t seen it work on any berries; black or blue. But it should if one could get conditions right. The best blackberries I’ve tasted were the wild ones in Oregon. I presume some of that is their dry summers and deeply rooted old plants.
There probably is a correlation. I amended my earlier post. This should work on berries. But they are more water sensitive that fruit trees. It’s just a matter of getting some water deficit without over stressing the plants.
We have had very dry weather here until recently. I think it caused a more than usual June fruit drop. Nothing to be concerned about though. I still have hope as the rain was needed. On strawberries my observations on sweetness appear to be more about the light than water. Good light produced good strawberries. Not heat, light
Alan your eye popping Honey Royale came with just a couple of fruit on the tree and a month of dry weather, right? Maybe next time you get a good set try a few trees with a 50-75% reduction in crop load. Maybe that would help eastern growers overcome the 9-10 peach brix that have been posted lately.
My Flavor May did that for me- set only a couple dozen fruit on a mature tree, and the fruit was barely better than a somewhat overcropped Desiree nearby. There are always some fruit on a tree served by a surplus of leaves that I can make comparisons with. My thinning is never absolutely uniform.
There are many factors I believe in improving nutrient levels in fruit. Water is definitely one of the biggest at my location. More water seems to lower sugar content and improve fruit size. The more difficult the climate the better quality the fruit in my opinion but again I have no proof. I read a study once that showed deformed fruits, scarred fruits , misshapen or small fruits all had higher nutrients than other perfect fruit on the tree. That was an interesting study to me because we always eat all such fruits and try and sell the other perfect fruits when there is excess fruits.
This is not born out by my observations or probably even yours. Distribution of carbs is very localized when it comes to fruit, or shaded fruit would not be so bland, nor would peaches on the underside of trees- which you’ve observed.
I’ve read of studies that showed that apples suffering from scab infections get higher brix. The nutrients may also be part of a plants defense mechanism. As we’ve bred most of the bitterness out of vegetables we’ve also reduced nutrient content- or so I’ve read.