Note From Rachel: April 1, 2019
Dear CSA Members,
When the sun comes out this time of year, sandwiched between rainy days, the jobs we’ve been waiting to do on dry ground (mowing, spreading compost etc.) all seem to fall at the same time. Not only does all that work end up happening concurrently, but we also have to adjust plans from day-to-day to better match weather conditions. Over the past 2 years at Frog Hollow I’ve learned that you can only plan so much in farming, but ultimately Mother Nature decides what will happen.
For example, in early spring we dust pollen on our plum orchards to increase pollination and fruit-set. Ideally, we would dust the pollen on twice: once at 10-20% bloom and once a few days later. Pollen should be spread during warm (> 55°F) and low-wind conditions. However, because we were hit by so much rain during early bloom this year, we had to spread all the plum pollen in 1 shot, a bit later in bloom than ideal, but during a small window of perfect weather.
We buy our pollen from Firman Pollen. Actually, pollen sales is an interesting business. Firman attains their pollen by thinning flowers on orchards across the state. Their team thins flowers for growers at “popcorn stage” - when petals are still closed and just about to open (this is when they contain the maximum amount of pollen). As their crew thins, instead of dropping flowers on the ground, they collect them. Once in their facility, the flowers are ground, dried and run through vacuum screens. Growers like us then purchase the collected pollen, in frozen form, and spread into our trees using a dusting machine (mounted to ATV).
Our next job is to dust pollen onto our cherries and pears, which are just beginning to bloom. This time, I’m hoping we can spread it at both the ideal bloom AND ideal weather conditions!
Keep your fingers crossed!