My favorite time of the year is here again; nothing can beat springtime in the orchard! With blue skies and apple blossoms all around, it’s really quite breathtaking. It can also be a rewarding time for growers, as one of the best parts of spring is getting a chance to see what type of crop potential we have out there. There is still a long road to haul to achieve that potential, but if you have a good bloom and friendly weather that’s a great start!
Unfortunately for some of our friends in the Great Lakes region, the challenging weather this year has caused significant crop damage. Michigan, New York, Ontario and Quebec have been hit hard by frost damage this year. Temperatures in April dipped into the 20s (Fahrenheit), and the damage was made even worse by an unusually warm March that had caused many trees to bloom early, making them more vulnerable to the cold. Some growers were unlucky enough to lose their entire crop, and some estimate as much as 80 percent of Ontario’s crop could be lost.
Growers are not completely defenseless against what nature throws at us. When cold snaps hit, we will often spend sleepless nights trying to mitigate the damage, using tools like wind machines, helicopters, heaters and irrigation water to bring warmer air down close to the ground or put a layer of ice on the blossoms to insulate them. Even with defenses like these, efforts often come up short, which is why growers like us appreciate it even more when everything goes right.
When conditions are cold or windy (or both!), it can be very stressful. Weather plays a huge role in the level of bee activity and, thus, how successful pollination is. Cold weather is especially detrimental to bee activity, which affects pollination as a result. Luckily, it doesn’t look like we will have that problem here this year!
As you can see from the photo, our bees are already very active, and it’s looking like we are going to have perfect pollination weather this year. We will be explaining more about the pollination process in an upcoming blog, as it is such an important topic. We have hundreds of thousands of bees in our orchard alone, and the busier they are the better! Hopefully everything will continue to go smoothly, and all the hard work – from us and the bees – results in the kind of harvest we always strive for.