Spring has arrived, and in a most definite manner - lots of sunshine & very warm temperatures. Certainly a joy to work in, but a cause for some panic among farmers trying to stay ahead of the weather.
The sound of orchard sprayers can be heard throughout our neighbourhood.
Certain sprays have to be applied before the trees break their dormancy - the most immediate being for peach leaf curl. This is a serious fungal disease that causes the new peach leaves (in May/June) to turn a reddish colour, become thick & then curl up and eventually dry and fall off. A few infected leaves don't really matter, but too many on a tree can affect the crop & the health of the peach tree. While a timely dormant spray can control leaf curl, the warm weather has caused us all to scramble to get it on in time.
Here is an example of peach leaf curl on some young peaches in June 2011.
Eventually most of the leaves fell off & I thought the trees would die.
While new leaves did appear, essentially these trees lost a year of growth.
Oil sprays also have to be applied soon. These work by coating the tree branches and smothering the pests. Timing depends on what diseases or insects we are trying to control. Often we might only have a day or two to spray for optimum effect, and hopefully weather conditions allow us to spray then. These dormant or early spring sprays, when applied properly can save many pest problems later in the season when control is more difficult and expensive.
Pruning continues as well.
On our farm the pears & European plums (the blue/purple ones) are pruned. I should get at the cherries this week. Raspberries are also pushing to get done. Peaches will wait until May.
Blackberries are almost half finished being pruned & tied.
Daily changes can be seen on the fruit trees.
Peach buds just starting to swell.
Yesterday I seeded some snow peas and spinach.
The spinach & lettuce that overwintered under row cover (which blew off during those strong winds the previous week) have begun to grow as well.
Other signs of spring ...
Canada geese at the neighbour`s pond. Sure hope they are in transit & not settling in!
And Oliver - always a good reminder
that it`s not all about work.
We all need to take the time to enjoy the sunshine!