We may be only a days past the second new moon following the winter solstice, but I think we can say that spring is here at Ladera Frutal. The days have been clear, dry, and very warm since the second day of 2009. It is still chilly at night, thanks to all that clear and dry air. But signs of early spring are all around.
For example, the ‘Tropic Snow’ peach.
This variety has a very low chilling requirement, and while it has begun blooming in late January many times before, I have never before seen it at nearly full bloom before the month of January was out!
Even the little ‘Garden Prince’ almond is starting to get into the act.
Maybe this year it will be in full bloom by Tu Bi-Shvat! That’s now a less than a week away, but it just might make it.
The two trees pictured above are just a little way down the slope from Ladera Frutal HQ, where chill does not stick around in weather like this. Down in the corralito, on the other hand, it is still getting cold enough each night for continued daily chilling accumulation–barely. (As I type these words about an hour and a half past sundown, there is a 7-degree difference between the two locations.)
Even in the corralito, several trees will have many blooms in the coming days.
The ‘Mesch Mesch Amrah’ plumcot–always one of our favorite fruits–is about to burst with new leaves and a few blooms. This last picture was taken on 29 January. In the meantime, I have seen two or three flowers open. But it probably had only marginally sufficient chill this winter and it looks like it is leafing out without much of a bloom. Other trees nearby with at least a few flower buds swelling include the ‘Newcastle’ and ‘Katy’ and ‘Royal Rosa’ apricots and the ‘Flavor Delight’ aprium. All of these tend to be early, and have had the stray late-January bloom before, and all are pretty low chill. Even so, spring does seem to be just a bit early this year.
As for all those trees down in the corralito with higher chilling requirements, I am hoping they can hang on to their dormancy just a little longer. A blast of chill may come later this week, but it probably will not stick around long enough to reach the 500 chill hours that I normally could count on in this coldest part of Ladera Frutal. It could be a somewhat lean year for many of our deciduous fruit varieties.