We had 7 days of mid 80 degree (29-30 C) weather, at least 3 of which set new record highs for the date. While this made for comfortable weather for humans, it has brought on an onslaught of spring, like watching it in Fast Forward. Things have been coming on too quickly, IMHO.
The problem for fruit trees is twofold. First, everything comes out into bloom too quickly, while the potential for hard frosts is still very high. While enjoying the warm weather, a nagging part of me was fearing that a freeze would catch the fruit trees at their most vulnerable, when all the blooms have emerged, but they haven’t been pollinated yet. This would result in no fruit for the year.
Sure enough, at the end of this warm spell came a cold front and the forecast was hard frost. It set up just as one fears, a cold rainy day with the temperatures dropping throughout the day, then seeing patches of blue in the sky as the daylight faded to dark. If the clouds hold, heat is retained like by a blanket but if they dissipate, the heat does too.
I covered a currant bush that was all bloomed out with floating row cover in case it was self pollinating as this would represent the first fruit from the berries I planted last year (most won’t bear until next year), but there wasn’t much I could do for the established fruit trees.
I went out with some trepidation the next morning, but the frost was lighter than predicted, with only some showing up on the windshield of the car. I checked the fruit tree blossoms that late afternoon but the dreaded brown blooms were not to be found, they were still bright and vibrant.
The second problem for the fruit crop is lack of pollinators. When the Spring unfolds its earliest blooming plants at a more natural pace native pollinators can build up populations so when the fruit nectar flow hits they are ready to go. When it all comes in at once they are undermanned.
Usually beekeepers have their new bees (a lot more hives have to be repopulated yearly now then they used to have to be) by now, and they use the fruit tree nectar flow to build up on so they have adequate population to make honey on the sweet clover and stuff later. Unfortunately, the new bees haven’t shipped yet.
I was talking to a beekeeper this week who said he had ordered bees to arrive second week of April, which would mean they would have been here for the normal fruit tree nectar flow. Unfortunately, because it was so cold in Georgia this past winter, they have had to delay shipping bee packages until the last week in April.
The combination of an early blossoming and late shipping of the bees means they will miss the fruit bloom.
When I was checking the fruit trees, I could see a few bumblebees hovering around them, and I am sure there were probably some small wasps that are hard to see, but there should have been a pervasive humming sound in them as the bees worked them over efficiently.
So it remains to be seen how much of a fruit set we will get this year.