I am truly shocked (not un-appreciative) with the heavy fruit set this year. I thinned my apples while bagging, and for the first time ever, bagged over 300 apples from four trees. You’ve seen a picture of the Italian plums (I’ll be away when they ripen) Ugh! The cherry tree will be netted tomorrow (finally) and will have plenty. The peach trees except for one are loaded. I have hundreds of peaches this year. One apricot (new tree) and no pears. Many grapes and all other berries on the way.
Was it the harsh winter temps. that forced the trees to over-produce? Were they afraid they just not make it through another season?
Is it possible to leave the ‘seedling’ peach ‘un-netted’? Or does that set a bad precedent for birds? It made a very so-so jam. It tasted great in the pot, but bland from the jar. The un-named peach tree has very round shaped peaches with no pointy end. They are cling and mostly sour. This tree unfortunately has the most peaches on it. My peach scion wood was sent too early for grafting or else I would have taken the tree down in early june and grafted new peaches!
My final loss of trees from this past winter was 7. Only two have been replaced.
Hooray for your crop load, Mrs. G!!! You’ve put in many years of work for that. Who will be picking your Italian plums???
I had a great variety of loads this year. TONS of apples: literally. Each tree loaded to its capacity and with good thinning I see no June drop, so I think I’m keepin’ 'em. Pies and butter galore.
Masses, masses of mulberries and blueberries, even young blackberries. North Country looks like it will be the first ripe Blue bush.
BUT… on to peaches. A mere four (4. As in 1-2-3-4) peaches only on my oldest tree: granted its only third leaf. It was a sparse bloom and the late freeze made it even sparser. But I also took an awful lot of wood off that tree, fixing silly newby mistakes from two years ago. So I’m not sure if it was the freeze, me or both.
So in general: heavy loads, with the peach exception. Not sure if the slow, extended spring warm up had some effect?
7 trees lost… ouch. I lost a combo plum and two blueberries.
Mrs. G I’m glad you have a good deal to deal with! I hope the stars align for you and it all comes together.
I’ve seen a little on the nature of production varying from year to year, and what I came away with is that plants determine what to do not depending what’s to come (they’re no better at predicting the weather than anybody else!) but on what happened before. They are reactive rather than proactive.
How that works I won’t speculate, but as I understand it the timing and quantity of fruit set is the tree responding to previous seasons.
I also think that a fly in the ointment of discussions such as these is that we’re seeing a lot of extreme weather patterns in recent years, and there may be some very confused trees out there.
Good luck with things. Keep us posted.
ps- I got great fruit set this year, and then got hammered with hail- Arrrgh!!
Thanks for your comments! Privately email me your apple butter recipe unless you’d like to share it here. Will really need that recipe! Your peaches will come along! I still have off years with them.
Mark I will keep you posted. It is just amazing to not just have an orchard, but one that is producing fruit! It has taken a long time, as I picked slow growers and obscure varieties. The basic trees in my collection are doing really well this summer.
As for the heavy fruit set, and your comments (I like the way you think!).
Thanks for the reassurance - those peaches are the challenge aren’t they?
Apple butter! Very glad to share it here. Pardon estimations…I’m one of those PIA eyeball-and-smell cooks. I never really measure.
I use the slow cooker.
- Apples peeled, cored, bugs extracted! (Hah, I do WISH I was joking there). I usually do about 8-10 cups of cut up apples at a time.
- Add in about a cup/cup n a half of apple cider or juice (store or homemade) to give some cooking liquid.
- ~3 tbs. lemon juice
- about a cup of dark brown sugar (can always use less, based on taste, and your sugar feelings.)
- spices at start: (I do two layers of spice, start and mid-finish) ~2 tbs. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, very hefty pinch of salt, like a tsp. worth (I like sea), pinch of ground ginger, pinch of allspice.
Cook on High setting about 10 hours (which if you start in the a.m. is the full days worth on High) and then 8 more hours on Low (nice to change over to Low at bedtime). When I change over to Low, I taste and see if I need to layer fresh spice in: usually I add a sprinkle more of cinnamon, but not always, all on taste.
During the whole time, stir now and then, smush the apple chunks up as they soften, and continually refold the darker carmelizing edges of the butter (heaven!) back into the bulk of the cooking apple mix. You will find it will shrink down quite a bit.
After the eight Low hours, you can run it through the blender in batches for smoothing; just a few seconds is enough. I use the Ninja one, easy peasy and it ends up like apply, almost liquerish-tasting satin.
These guys (from the tree I think is N. Spy) made wonderful butter last fall!
I freeze it in some Ball jars and also in popsicle trays for small uses. And the house smells divine!
Heavy flowering is likely the result of light crops the previous season or other favorable conditions providing trees with a surplus of energy to devote to flower production.
Heavy set of those flowers is affected by attention of pollinators and the amount of energy the spur leaves have to invest in the pollinated fruit. The east had an almost perfect spring for fruit set this year. Lots of warm days and little rain for the 3 or 4 weeks from flowering until fruit set. This allows the leaves to sock away plenty of energy for the formation of fruit and the bees love to fly on warm clear days. Almost like a typical CA spring.
I’m taking a break from thinning fruit today to fulfill a different obligation. It will be a welcome break. I will finish up early next week.
Alan, thanks so much! We have had a very cold spring here with very few hot days. Warm days, maybe two weeks worth but not in a row; you answered my question and I thank you!
Know I have to buy a slow cooker. Bought a dehydrator last year! Ha!
Mrs G. I know your spring started cool but didn’t you get some nice warm weather once flowers were in bloom?
And I still need to get a dehydrator!
I love the slow cooker for making all sorts of fruit stuff: it makes great precooked pie filling that I freeze in what I call ‘blanks’. I lay foil loosely in my pie pan and put the cooked pie filling inside it and freeze it in that shape. Then when I want to make a pie I just prep the dough and place the ‘blank’ in it, bake and pie is ready in a very short time.
I don’t can, I freeze everything. I’ve seen too many very sick people on ventilators form botulism (so my canning phobia = job hazard.) I know tons of people can and jar successfully so I’m not bashing it, I just am more comfortable with freezing.
OK! Back to topic: I am going to harvest more mulberries this year than ever. Going out now with a bowl.
My apples set a huge crop and i swear 80% of them have fallen on the ground. I’ve been picking them up daily. I didn’t spray them so everything has pc damage…so i hate to miss many. I also pruned one of my trees hard to open it up some for light.
Our warm/hot weather just started last week and boy is everything taking off. Peonies and iris just out along with strawberries and thats about it!
You are about two weeks behind me - peonies just finished last week after a short but gorgeous bloom (note the happy bee).
We are both maritime but RI has been consistently a few weeks cooler than us from what I have read in your posts. I hope your later fruit gets plenty of time to finish; if you have the same pattern we have been getting I would expect that the late, slow fall cooling does buy us some time at the back end of the growing season.
My Iris are peaking and the peonies just finished. My June drop saw the loss of my only apricot! Haven’t lost one apple. . . yet, and a few Italian plums are dropping. I’m pulling peaches off the trees by the handful. This is a good problem!