We are in Aviv! Spring, and this day before the day before the spring festival, Pesach, starts, please join me on a little walk around the orchard.
Thanks to a good amount of winter chill (750–800 hours or even more) and a mostly benign spring (more on that qualifier later), the bloom is the best I have seen yet at this location.
It is getting to be late spring, and so the trees are in various phases of bloom and fruit set. Only a few remain in full bloom at this point.
The first foursome consists of a plumcot, two apriums, and an apricot. As we enter the orchard, the first stone fruit we encounter is the on the upper left of the gallery, the Summer Delight aprium (plum–apricot hybrid that leans towards the latter). It is just wrapping up its bloom. To the right–in both orchard-row terms and in the gallery–is the Cot-N-Candy aprium, a luscious white-fleshed variety that had its best bloom yet for me.
The plumcot, in the lower right, is the Flavorella, one of my favorite of all the stone fruits. It blooms early; the photo shows some of the last few blooms among its well developed foliage. Because it blooms so early, getting cross-pollination, which it needs to set fruit, can be a challenge. The key companion here is the Royal Rosa apricot (lower left), which as this image shows, has a heavy set of fruitlets. It is one of the earliest ripening apricots, and its correspondingly early bloom is one of the traits that makes it an ideal pollen source for the Flavorella.
We then enter a group of peaches and nectarines.
Each has its distinctive shade and shape of pink blossom. In the upper right, Baby Crawford. To its left, Heavenly White nectarine, Donut, and Raspberry Red nectarine. In the bottom row, Sweet Bagel (L) and Liz’s Late nectarine. Donut and Sweet Bagel are called thus because they are flat or “saucer” peaches. None of these has fruited well for me in past years, but the extensive blooms and lack of rain during the bloom time gives me hope of good fruit set this year.
We then enter a realm of great expectation for 2021, the white apricots. These trees do not normally bloom well, although I have had a few fruits one one or both trees in some past years. The blooms this year are the best I’ve seen, and while that’s not a sufficient condition for a crop, it certainly is a necessary one.
On the left is the Monique. This is one of the sweetest and most soft-fleshed stone fruits I know of. It is as true a white apricot as any I have had (as white as the best white peaches). It is a shy bearer, but it is such an amazing fruit that I am happy to keep it going in the orchard row even if it gives only 2-3 fruits every other year. This year maybe it will give a lot more–if all goes well for the next few months. On the right is the Canadian White Blenheim apricot. This is less true white, but is very pale for an apricot not named Monique. It has also had a shy-bearing tendency. But look at that bloom! It is not quite a full yet (note many swollen buds that should open in a day or two). This bloom is impressive; I hope the fruit set is a success!
Now it is pluot time! These plum–apricot hybrids lean more towards plum. They have become better known in recent years as farmers markets and even grocery stores now carry them. I have three varieties. In the gallery below, the upper left shows Splash, a yellow-fleshed pluot. This is always the earliest of the pluots to bloom, which can be tricky for pollination, but the Flavor Finale (upper right) and Flavor King (lower left) always catch up and we get concurrent bloom. The bigger issue with Splash is its tendency to develop some condition (a fungus, presumably) that prevents ripening of the typically heavy fruit set. Hoping the near absence of rain this season–while bad for other reasons–might inhibit fungal growth this year.
I alluded earlier to a caveat about the being spring. We actually had a 32-degree night and a couple others near freezing but with frost in mid-March. This can be bad news during bloom and early fruit set, and a couple of past years, including 2020, had frost or freeze conditions that really devastated some varieties’ bloom or set. The Flavor King, as you can see in this picture, may have suffered some bloom damage. That brown on the blossoms is not a good sign, but fortunately not all the blooms seems to have been hit. Rounding out the gallery in the lower right is the Flavor Delight aprium. This is usually the first stone fruit tree to bloom (it is self-fruitful, fortunately), and as you can see, the fruitlets are relatively large for late March and the tree is fully leafed out by now.
Now come the two pluerry trees. A pluerry is a plum–cherry hybrid. The Sugar Twist (left, in gallery below) had an utterly profuse bloom! However, it looks to have been hit quite hard by the brief cold snaps during its bloom. There may be some fruit setting here, but it will be more sparse than it might have been without the cold. The Candy Heart, which bloomed a little earlier, seems not to have been hit at all by cold. In the photo, you can see one of the last blooms as well as some tiny fruitlets. These two need cross-pollination, and so their not blooming together could be a problem, although they do overlap somewhat. They also have nearby the pluots (Flavor King is a good all-around pollen source for other pluots, as well as plums and pluerries). I also have (not shown) Santa Rosa, Beauty, Methley, and Emerald Beaut plums. With all these blooming, there should be enough pollen to go around for those that need a mate. And there are definitely bees! In fact, look closely, as a couple of the photos actually show a bee in a flower providing a benefit for the orchardist.
The last of the plums or plum hybrids to reach full bloom is the Emerald Beaut, a delicious late-ripening yellow-fleshed plum that is one of my favorites. Its bloom is especially profuse right now.
That is a lot of fruit trees and blooms! And the images above do not show all the varieties. The Hunza apricot (in my opinion the best tasting apricot, which also has an edible kernel with amazing complex flavor) is having a good bloom, as is the Shar Kah Pareh apricot (plumcot?), although the latter may have suffered some blossom damage from the cold. I also focused here only on stone fruits, although in the first photo with the overview of the orchard, you can see the Warren pear in bloom in the right foreground. These and more are at the Flickr site. Here is hoping for a lot of fruit!