Spring has sprung and apricots next to the walls of my house are in bloom. I didn’t see any pollinators working the blooms until this warm day. A single carpenter bee and a couple of very small natives are doing the job that I was about to attempt by hand.
My very earliest peach and nectarine have color showing on flower buds, so I will spray sites early next week that have an issue with peach scale.
I never saw this pest until 4 years ago, but it is becoming an increasing issue in my region (S. NY, SW and SE CT), that quickly weakens peaches when left untreated. The white scaley build up on the bark is very easy to see and it often also appears on plums and ornamental cherries. Untreated it kills trees. Very stupid pest to kill its host.
Generally I prefer to hold off oil until apple tight cluster so that the Myclobutanil or Indar in the mix has max efficacy against scab and cedar apple rust, but most sites will do OK where I will have to spray a bit early. Usually just 2 sprays at petal fall and 10-14 days later are adequate to control scab and CAR when I mix Myclo or Indar with Captan. .
Today the mason bees and others were out in force so I brought a bouquet to each of my isolated apricot trees in half gal plastic milk containers filled with water. Strung an Orange-red bouquet to my Early Blush tree and vice versa. If these two trees don’t give me fruit this year I will likely cut them down because they are old enough to have given me fruit the last 5 years, but maybe there’s too much distance from other cots. Both work well for me at other sites nearby.
After 25 years of trying, the only reliable bearing cots on my prop are planted next to the south wall of my house.
I’m just about done pruning my customer’s trees- been doing so most every work day last 3.5 months- so I was working mostly on my own nursery trees today- mostly on peaches whose blossoms have just turned pink.
It is tedious work because I have to do a lot of training of branches to bring them close to horizontal. I use Treform spreaders (I usually sustain a central leader during the training process to help), electrical tape- tying higher branches to lower temp ones, or metal rebar if all else fails- taping a single branch to a piece of this iron.
In customer orchards I sometimes wrap a long piece of heavy twine around the base of trees and pull branches to horizontal from there. Stakes and string are often not an option for these estate orchards because it interferes with mowing if there isn’t a very wide mulched circle underneath. Natural twine has yet to girdle trees when I do this although a lot of time may pass before I get there to remove the string.
If anyone else in the NE wants to submit experiences here I’d be delighted to read them.
Flowers on peaches, apricots and pluots have been open for a few days and plums are just starting. My my concern is that the only pollinator I’ve seen is one bumble bee and one unknown little bee. Temperatures have been high 50s and 60s. Last year at this time there were at least 5 varieties of pollinators. Possibly heavy winds and rain has discouraged the bees.
I only have a few grafts of apricots with two of them being OrangeRed. I don’t see any pollinators. Who wants to fly when it is either raining or windy? I probably will use a paint brush to ensure cross pollination occurs.
My cots are just starting to bloom. Plums and peaches are at pink.
I hear you about spreading branches with twine and mowing. The twine got slashed many times by a lawn mower. Fortunately, I have a small yard. I can redo the tying easily.
Talked to my neighbor, a bee keeper, asking him where his bees where. He said activity is low do to the rain and wind. Since then we have had four more days of strong wind and rain. Raining now and possibly Mon, Wed and Friday. Pear flowers will be open this week and by the end of week peaches, apricots and plums will be finished flowering then I’ll see what has been pollinated.
In spring the days just run together so I don’t remember the day, exactly, but I think we had good sun on Thurs and the whole crew of buzzem buddies were foraging on my early flowering peaches, nects, J. plums and the remaining cot flowers.
The bomb squad, my carpenter bees, were out then, but there were even a few working my trees in the cool grey of yesterday- saw a single one working some flowers this morning and as the day warms I suspect all species out before will come out today.
I don’t know, but it seems like just one good day when a good percentage of flowers are open should do the trick. Pollination is rarely a problem here.
I think it is helpful to keep some of your land wild and also to try to keep something nourishing flowering for as long as possible, from early spring to late fall. It’s also good to have habitat for carpenter bees in the way of unprotected wood. They live in the wood trim of my house and in the wood panels of my greenhouse. They also like my cedar fence posts.
When I started my current business, it was titled “Landscape Habitats” and offered wildlife feed stations, establishment of mini-native-prairies and organic fruit orchards.
Back then, all people in the NE seemed to want was the organic orchards, which it turned out I was unable to deliver because it would be about 15 years before Surround entered the market.
After a lot of searching I found out about Dr. Prokopy’s research at U.Mass to develop a very low input synthetic spray schedule. That helped create the foundation of the business I developed over the last 25+ years.
A lot of our land is hilly, uncleared forested area. I have never seen where they live, but every spring when the wildflowers and fruit plants bloom, they are awash in bumblebees, honey bees, and all kinds of buzzers. It’s cool to stand under one of our big old Milam apple trees, and hear that thrumming sound of bees working over the blooms.
From a local weather reporter: “Today marks the 18th day this month that we’ve seen measurable precipitation. Tomorrow will be 19 and then Sunday will make 20. That’s when April 2019 will officially become the month with the most number of days with measurable precipitation ever recorded since 1872.”
So that’s not great news for pollination, but it’s been good planting weather at least.
Pollination has been interesting. Tuesday I was very concerned because it was clear and warm and the only action was carpenter bees working weeds under trees. The next day everything was out in force working the J. plums and E’s as well. Thursday the carps were all over the peaches and nects. Today was cool and rainy at times, but when it stopped for a couple of hours the carps started working again.
Carpenter bees seem to be an underappreciated ally of fruit growers. No other pollinator here is as reliable in cool wet weather. I’ve read university based recommendations to eliminate them if you are growing blueberries because they are said to destroy the flowers to obtain pollen.
They work my blueberry flowers like crazy but never do anything but help them crop heavily.
My house is mostly made out of stucco covered cinder block which was trimmed with some wood for ornamental reasons. They have drilled the hell out of the ornamental wood but never damage the cedar clapboard of the stick-built, more recent addition of my home.
They also have turned the non pressure treated wood of my greenhouse into swiss cheese. These both I am happy to sacrifice.
I believe more should be done for researching their establishment in orchards. I just happened to have the environment they like which I augment with a lot of flowering plants all pollinators love from early spring to late fall.
The carps strangely disappear every year by about mid-summer. They always are there in full force in early spring when fruit flowers open.
Can’t find weather consistently good enough to graft peach. This is my off year for apple. Honey Crisp, Gold Rush, Fuji and Golden Russet all take this year off. 2 William Pride have sparse blloms. Most of their branches have been converted to many other varieties anyway.
On the bright side, only little apple bagging task needed.
It’s currently 35ºF with howling wings at noon. The temperature is supposed to drop through the weekend. I expect it to go below 20ºF by Monday morning. It’s a good thing only apricots have started to bloom so far.
The past few years there have been temperature spikes into 90’s during the first week of May. They fried my first stone fruit grafts done at the end of April. It doesn’t look like that pattern will repeat this year.
Although we continue to have more than the desired amount of rain there have been plenty of warm days with heavy pollinator activity. There aren’t as many species working the trees- haven’t noticed any syrphid flies at all and they are usually plentiful, but mason bees and especially my carpenter bees are abundant and very active in the blossoms of all species.
It’s funny how commercial guidelines often caution about dandelions distracting bees from fruit trees but my ample crop of dandelions seems to generate much less attention than fruit blossoms- even pear blossoms. I only worry about flowering weeds at insecticide time- that’s when I scalp the sod with a weedwhacker to decapitate all flowers.
Of course, there are no studies to analyze how much starvation this causes.
I hope it hasn’t been the syrphid flies that have been responsible for pollinating my paw paws in the past- I never notice anything working the blossoms but they reliably bear fruit. One of the trees is more loaded with blossoms than I’ve ever seen it.
Frost has been an absolute non-issue like no spring in memory. There was one light frost in April that singed my figs and that was it.