Despite all of my angsting, the only stone fruit crop that took a beating seems to be the sour cherry. The mature tree bloomed just as the April cold snap hit so the bees weren’t able to do their thing. In the few hours of flyable warmth during that spell only a handful of blossoms got pollinated. Little lime green balls hang only here and there among the leaves even as some of the late blossoms continue to open.
My husband, Kevin, and I peered among the branches the other day, trying to will the dried, shriveled flowers to swell. I can only imagine how devastated the Wayne County orchardists who lost multiple crops must feel.
We can console ourselves with the knowledge that Kevin still has a dozen or so jars of “cherry elixir” remaining from last year’s bounty. I suspect he’ll guard that juice so jealously there’ll be nary a sip for me.
Most of our other fruit trees are too young to have been affected. In a perfect year, we might have been treated to a handful of sweet cherries and one or two pears, but given the immaturity of our young sylvan charges, it’s best for their longterm health that they aren’t producing just yet.
Somehow the more delicate peach trees managed to squeak through. Each was bred by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station and its equivalent at the University of New Hampshire to withstand cold winters, but that hardiness shouldn’t have anything to do with surviving chaotic springs.
Both bloomed a little earlier than normal, but the timing was such that our buzzing buddies were able to go to town. And now both are loaded with fuzzy, almond-size footballs. I actually had to thin them the other morning.
From what I’ve read, peaches are such large fruit that they tax a tree’s resources. By plucking off extras, leaving one peach every 5 inches or so, the crop should end up bigger and sweeter — which makes a huge difference when it comes to peaches.
I found the task to be bittersweet, especially knowing we’ll have a less-than-stellar crop of sour cherries.
So, whether it was the Geneva bubble or the researchers’ fine breeding that saved them, we’ll be grateful for every peach we get.
I feel it in the pit of my stomach.