Summer is around the corner now. The rains and colder weather are now being followed by much warmer weather. It is often hard to remember just how quickly everything breaks from dormancy.
One minute nothing is growing , the ground is waterlogged and your hopes for a successful growing season seem unlikely.
Some trees set blossom first and then leaves, other species are the complete opposite. For example cherries blossom first followed by leaves. Raspberries on the other hand are the reverse with leaves first and then maybe a week or tow later fruit blossoms. Blackberries are much the same.
Sometimes diseases also burst forth with the increase in temperatures. Antracnose is often present in Blackberries but starts to become destructive as spring moves into summer. Wet winters accentuate these sort of problems. Powdery mildew is apples and strawberries is often a nightmare at Eureka Farm. And acceptable long-term treatments are often hard to find as the disease often grows resistant to the fungicide much the same way that resistance to antibiotics can occur in humans.
Apricots are notorious for canker and brown rot. Spring and oscillating temperatures with interdispersed rains can make growing this fruit a nightmare. Having seen the conditions in Laddakh where apricots thrive I would just love to be able to emulate there spring and summer weather pattern. There winters are really cold but once the summer season starts generally there is no looking back. What I mean is the weather is not confusing. The plants come into blossom with steadily warmer weather. And best of all there is low humidity and no rains to worry about.
We have to combat our weather conditions with the use of fungicides copper sprays in the dormant period and other fungicides to follow up after rainy periods in the spring when leaf matter prevents the use of these copper sprays.
In addition to our worries about diseases and there are plenty to worry about we also have to contend with rapid increases in pests. Often the pest populations can wipe our the crop. In our tree crops the main contenders are aphids and cherry slugs. And the worse thing about getting rid of pests are that the sprays often necessary are not user friendly.
Last but not least are the native animals which are meant to be outside the fences which are generally electric but which often have a desire to get inside as the pickings are just what they love. Lots of tender new leaves just waiting to be eaten. In some paddocks it is almost impossible to get young trees established. Just one undetected and unprotected broken fence and all of our paddocks lose these defenses.
So at this time keeping things up to sratch can be quite exhausting. Constant vigilance is required to check that fences are not broken, that pests or diseases are not out of control etc. Unfortunately this is a feature of the Spring when creatures great and small rule the orchard.