February 24, 2014.
The cold just will not quit. We are kind of hunkered down here, going to meetings, doing planning and paperwork and making jams and jellies.
Now, it is just about the cold and its effects on the trees and the fruits. The coldest we have recorded so far at the sales barn is minus 11.6 and I am sure it was several degrees colder in some parts of the orchards. The apple and pear trees should take this no problem and powdery mildew should be reduced this summer because of the cold weather this winter. I would expect that our temperatures so far should not have affected the European plums and sour cherries. The damage to the Japanese plums and sweet cherries will depend on the variety but I expect significant damage in those. The peach deal is still to be determined but I am sure we will have lots of dead flower buds. The question is, will any buds come through on peaches? I think we will see some fruit.
The peach crop last year was reduced about 70%, however, the conditions were much different at that time. We had warm temperatures and then a major plunge below zero in just a few days and no snow cover. This year it has been a slow but steady cold period and lots of snow.
To check buds, we used to cut branches, place them in water in the house and wait for the buds to either push out and bloom or give it up. This is rather painful to watch especially if the news is bad. Therefore, we just take it as it comes and just see what happens in the spring. Plants are programmed to reproduce (make fruit and seeds) and they always seem to surprise me. We shall see.
Meantime, we will be back at pruning when the weather breaks and setting up for maple syrup.