NEW ENGLAND APPLE growers face twin threats at this time of year: a late frost, or poor weather during bloom. Either one can have a devastating affect on the year’s apple crop.
So far, so good.
A late frost will kill the blossoms and nascent fruit. Apples can withstand temperatures slightly below freezing, but if it gets colder than about 28 degrees Fahrenheit, the crop can be lost before the season begins.
If cool, cloudy, rainy weather persists during the seven to ten days of spring bloom, honeybees and native pollinators cannot get out to orchards in adequate numbers to ensure good fertilization. To learn about why this is necessary, view this short video:
Fortunately, despite the unseasonably cool and cloudy weather of this past week, there have been enough breaks with sunshine so that plenty of flowers will be visited to ensure a good crop this fall. That was the case yesterday at Sholan Farms in Leominster, Massachusetts, where the honeybees were buzzing despite more clouds than sun.
Region-wide, bloom is a little late this year due to the cold, wet spring. It usually peaks around Mother’s Day in Massachusetts, so it is a few days behind schedule. Trees are just beginning to blossom in southern Vermont northward. That’s fine with growers, since it further reduces the window during which a late frost might occur.
So for now, enjoy these beautiful blossoms, singly or en masse. Sholan Farms will be celebrating with its Apple Blossom Festival Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be food, crafts, and other activities, and of course, apple blossoms.