The race begins

It's been a mild winter.  A bout of freezes in December, some storms in January, but overall relatively warm and dry.  And now February in the 60's.  The trees are coming back to life, faster than I'd like. Early spring, between seeding and tending the nursery and harvesting overwintered crops, ends up being a race to beat the fruit trees.  We have about 80 of them: mostly apples with a smattering of plums, cherries, Asian pears, pears, peaches, and even a couple almonds.  Luckily, each type of fruit starts to blossom at a different time, so we start pruning the first to break bud and chase the gradual onset of flowering throughout the orchard.

The plums are first.  They're so close!

 Plum blossoms swelling

Plum blossoms swelling

Next week they'll be a sea of white petals.  For now, it's time to focus on pruning so that the tree's hormones and energy aren't wasted in all that flowering.  By pruning in the winter when the trees are (theoretically) dormant, we promote new growth and can help shape the trees to optimize fruit yield.  More on all that later.

 tools of the trade: orchard ladder, extension pruner (plus hand pruners, loppers, and hand saws)

tools of the trade: orchard ladder, extension pruner (plus hand pruners, loppers, and hand saws)

For now, let this be just an announcement: the race has begun.  From now until mid March when the last pear tree is pruned, I'll be chasing blossoms.