Spring 2024 Bloom Update

Spring 2024 Bloom Update

We still have gray days, but when the sun peeks through the clouds and the flowers show their colors, we can almost taste an early variety Kettleman apricot. Spring is nearly here, and that means Farmer Al is in the orchard surveying the blooms, looking for signs from Mother Nature. 

Confusing weather

We can’t look at the trees without looking at the sky too. The weather has us a little confused lately, Farmer Al says. We had some warm weather in late January and early February, and the sunshine pushed the Kettleman apricots and Santa Rosa plums into full bloom two weeks ahead of schedule. Then the cold, wet weather slowed everything down through February. There was no heat or sunlight to energize the growing flowers. 

“It was almost like the trees weren’t growing at all, everything just stopped,” Farmer Al say. “As a result, I think we will see unusual fruit development this year. Some fruit may be earlier than normal and some will be later than normal, and that is because we’ve had such uneven weather conditions.”

Protecting the trees

When unusual weather happens, particularly warm, wet weather, our tree team mobilizes to protect the apricots from brown rot. A fungal disease that causes crop failure, brown rot affects all stone fruit, but apricots are the most vulnerable. Compost tea can help prevent brown rot, so tree teams have been spraying it in the orchard and watching the trees closely. 

We’re also spreading pollen wherever we have blossoms happening, Farmer Al says. We buy the pollen from companies that separate the pollen from hundreds of thousands of blossoms—all by hand. The tree team uses blowers to spread the pollen in orchards with flowers that are at least half open.

“The bees aren’t working right now—they don’t like the cold weather, so the physical presence of pollen helps,” Farmer Al says. 

Farmer Al’s projections

Here are Farmer Al’s projections for our early cherry and apricot varieties and for plums. Spoiler alert: There is plenty of sweet juicy fruit in your future!

  • Cherries: Our early variety Royal Tioga are in full bloom. There’s a chance they’ll be ready for harvest as soon as late April. Farmer Al is expecting a late harvest for Bings and Rainier cherries, which are not yet in bloom.
  • Apricots: We can see fruit set on our early varieties, like Apache and Kettleman, and we’re looking forward to a May harvest, possibly a few weeks ahead of schedule. For our later varieties, like Goldensweet and Goshen Gold, we will probably see a normal harvest time in mid-June.
  • Plums: We’re seeing a full bloom on plums right now, and Farmer Al expects they will be ahead of schedule this year. 

Bird’s eye view

Across the board, all the fruit looks really good and Farmer Al is expecting a good harvest year. But it’s still a little early to say for sure, he says.

“You couldn’t be a farmer if you weren’t an optimist,” Farmer Al says. “A lot can go wrong, and often something does go wrong. But we have so much diversity in the orchards that if one variety fails, we have something that will take its place.”

We will share more updates with you as the season progresses!

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