Strange weather will it get our blooms & fruit 2018?



For peaches the biggest effect on size has been the really quick warm-up, as well as the very dry conditions. As you recall, after peaches set, it got very hot very quick. This reduced the cell division of the peachlets resulting in a drastic reduction in cell count of the fruit.

All the peach growers in the KC area experienced this. One grower who grows 20 acres of peaches wrote Bill Shane about what we are all seeing. Growers are seeing very few 2" fruit (we’ve probably averaged 2-1/4" on these first varieties because we sell it softer where it has more time to swell). These are on irrigated and unirrigated orchards alike.

Bill Shane wrote back and confirmed it was probably the hot weather before pit hardening that did it. He sent a research link about it (see below). I’m certain drought is also contributing to the small size. I’ve seen dry years where fruit was significantly smaller. Everything is working against size this year.


The peaches were tiny here this year which as you know isn’t very far away from you. I’m sorry to here your crop is smaller than normal. Drought is very serious here. We are beyond reduced size crops but rather losing 7-8 year old bushes in dry locations. There is simply not enough water regardless to water everything with under six inches of moisture for the year. We go from one baking drought to the next but fortunately we are used to it and prepare for this. Fortunately we have had an incredible year in spite of these minor set backs. Perhaps I won’t get a lot of fruit but the hay crop generated some revenue and in general because I predicted the drought over a year before it happened I was prepared. Most full sized trees have dropped 100% of their crop and are losing the bottom half or more of their leaves. My pears are hanging tough through the drought and not aborting much fruit yet. Pears are highly drought tolerant which is one reason I grow them. This drought has already neared or passed the severity of the last drought. The green left in the pictures won’t last much longer. The blackberry is primary 45 which if I was not watering would be dead already. The bushes are the super hardy Viking Aronia. This is the nature of Kansas but when we pay our taxes these pictures are what people forget. It goes without saying the aronia crop, apple crop etc. are nearly complete losses.


Yikes Clark! That does look bad. We’ve lost quite a few new blackberry bushes on a couple new rows planted this spring, but our old bushes, though stressed and not giving many berries, are OK. A lot of the blackberries have been ripening and almost instantly turning to raisins. But so far the new canes coming up look ok. Our apples look good here. Peaches are small but very tasty. I see some young pears stressed because they were planted this spring and don’t have a good root structure. The old pears, like yours, seem to be doing fine.

We got about an inch of rain the other day which helped. Temps are running a little cooler too. I don’t think it will even make 90F today.


My larger deep rooted heirloom blackberries are doing great but the berries are smaller than I like them to be. As bad as it looks and as serious as it is we had a small shower yesterday which could be the start of what are normally the fall rains. Since we did not have any spring rains most everything that has roots less than 10 feet deep is suffering or dead. The water table continues to drop and rain right now will not save any fruit crops this year. The blackberries might turn mushy and fungal diseases would be difficult to control. With all that said any plants with roots not 10’ down are in trouble as I said now but that will be 15’ soon if this trend continues which impacts many more full sized 15 - 20 feet tall trees! During a drought we have been exceptionally blessed because I’m growing many full sized trees. If I grew espalier or many dwarfs I might be in more trouble. My 30’ pear trees in the bottoms have not even shown drought stress of any kind. My 30’ trees are feeling the drought at my hill top orchard but those roots are likely 20-30’ deep. We have been very blessed so far with a great cherry crop and since my heirloom blackberries get 20’ tall they are pulling water up from deep down in the earth. My pear crop is looking great but pears like everything are small. Anything I lose is my own fault because I know what I can and can’t grow here. I’m pushing the envelope with aronia and most years I get away with it.


Hot and dry 1/10 inch of rain fell since my last post


We continue to get slow steady rains ideal for plants. Those things that survived the drought will we doing very well going into winter having had some moisture. Many of my Asian pears eg. drippin honey fruit split due to the scorching heat and drought with now sudden moisture. Overall we have been extremely blessed with some of the best tasting pears I can imagine. It’s nothing short of a miracle we have had so many pears , grapes, plums, garden produce, cherries etc. . We are truly fortunate but some crops were failures or partial failures such as some late summer berry crops eg. Aronia. With so many blessings during the worst drought since the dirty thirties it makes me question my beliefs about what the limits actually are of many things we grow. Learned a lot from this drought. The fruit was much smaller this year. I found out the trees are efficient about dropping fruits without dropping all of it. The goal of the tree is to produce fruit if it can but when it begins to be to high of a liability self preservation kicks in and it will drop some of the fruit but mostly what’s higher up in the tree first. Apples are not at all drought tolerant in comparison to pears.


Booo! That is tough. So sorry.:frowning:


Thanks Mrs. G,

Actually, the size picked up some as we got past the most early peaches. Size was still small for most of the season, but not nearly as small as the early peaches.

The season’s not over yet, but it’s ended being our best year, mainly because more trees are coming into production.


Love any upside!


After a severe drought we are now starting to get heavy rains which should help the fruit trees better prepare for winter. I’m very thankful for the rain. Got a great deal done during the drought! I’m over 20 inches of rainfall behind for 2018. This has been the most severe drought our area has seen in my lifetime and they say since the dirty thirties! I lost around one hundred trees and twice that many berries this year that were 1-7 years old. I’m thankful for the loss because it culled the weaker types of trees that are not drought tolerant. I watered as many trees as possible but it always comes down to the hardiness of the plants that keeps them alive. Did not lose a single pear on wild callery rootstock or beautifolia! Beautifolia is one of the best rootstocks I’ve seen since it adapts quickly to poor clay soil with no care aside from what can be provided during initial planting. I will now have room to plant different things such as jujubes which seem more drought and temperature tolerant.


I’d say in your zone 5a/6b, it’s best to protect young jujube trees at least the first winter to ensure it’s survival. There are reports among members here that their first year plants did not survive their first winter.


Your definitely right I’ve got one jujube I’ve grown for years and the first couple years it was planted it died back to the ground and cane back from the roots. It looks great now! It produced some sour fruits this year. Next year I will graft it over to something better. Lately our winters have not went below -10f 6A. I can throw some wood chips on the jujube easily the first year and that’s good advice.


After a summer of drought similar to the 1930’s and loss of many new and old trees it seems we now are getting some moisture very early this year. The trees did not get a chance to turn leaf color. This weather is beyond strange in Kansas. October 14th will be remembered! These strange weather changes started being noticed in 2016 Strange weather - Will it get our blooms and fruit?.


I sure wish there was a thumbs down icon!!


Possibly in the running for wettest year ever in Kentucky.
But, we are leaving Summer and entering Winter it seems. Where did fall and pretty colors go?


November 8th brought snow already in Kansas! This is going to be very good because the trees are going to sleep on time and the moisture that comes with this wet snow is desperately needed.