After hardly getting any rain all winter, we’ve had a very wet spring, with a series of storms–a few quite big–passing through in March and the first half of April.
The wet spring followed a winter with quite good chilling accumulation (despite some warm spells along the way that made a doubter of me). The Mesch Mesch Amrah black “apricot” (actually a plumcot) is always one of the harbingers of spring. It had a good bloom, and the early signs of a good fruit set. But the wet weather did it in, and nearly all the fruitlets aborted by the end of March.
Most of the real apricots, on the other hand, have set better than I have ever seen before!
I am not sure now which apricot this is (shame on me, I know). It could be ‘Earli Autumn,’ ‘Autumn Glo,’ or ‘Blenheim.’ It does not matter,* because all of them (and also ‘Newcastle’) look like this. Look closely (especially on the large photo, which you can open in a new window by clicking the image) and you will see several very dense clusters of fruitlets!
The ‘Moorpark’ (as I have said before, my favorite) is still blooming. Fortunately, there have been some good sunny breaks between storms (inlcuding an 85-degree day on Friday), and it looks like it is setting.
Just today I noticed that the ‘Canadian White Blenheim’ had some blooms and several flower buds that are swelling. I have waited a long time to taste a true white-fleshed apricot. Could this be the year?
The photo shows how this tree looked on 30 March. It was starting to sprout new leaf shoots, meaning it had broken dormancy. Yet the old wood, on which apricots and other stone fruits bloom and fruit, remained dormant. I was unsure whether flower buds that were dormant after leaves began to appear on new shoots could still receive chill and bloom later. (This variety has a chilling requirement listed in catalogs of 500-700 hours, and I suspect it is more towards the higher end of that range.) Well, I have my answer, for now, in mid-April, even with most of the tree well leafed out, it has begun to bloom. It behaved this way last year, too, and I had never before seen an apricot begin leafing out so much before blooming. I do not know if it really had its chill requirement met, and if it will fruit under these conditions. But it is blooming–a necessary, but not sufficient condition for fruit!
The peaches and nectarines have also been blooming and setting well. However, this is also a year in which there is a lot of peach leaf curl. With all that rain, this spring gave the fungus the ideal conditions in which to prosper, and there was no opportunity to spray lime sulfur (organic, of course) with all the rains.
One of the best things about all this rain is that those little Tecate cypresses are growing–some have more than doubled in height!–and I have not had to irrigate them once since planting them in the first days of March.
* For the record, it’s the Earli Autumn.