A Note from Farmer Al: April, 15 2019
Windy weather is the watchword of the week. It's drying everything out and will help control fungal and other diseases that have been a plague in our trees this spring due to very wet conditions. Next thing you know, we'll be mobilizing the "Ground Crew" to get everything irrigated and to keep those trees growing.
After getting all the "brown rot" infections in the apricot orchards cleaned up (by pruning out the infected branches) we will then have to go right back into the same orchards to thin the fruit. Thinning is by far the most labor-intensive operation we do. It's the removal of the excess fruit to adjust the crop load of each branch on every tree. If fruits are "bunched up" on the branches, they just won't grow up to be the sweet juicy delicious fruits we all are hungry for. On each branch, there must be enough leaves to support the fruits on THAT branch. The leaves, energized by light from the sun (photosynthesis) are the little manufacturing "plants" which produce all the sugars and other nutrients which grow the fruit. Scientists have studied this and tell us exactly how many leaves are needed to "size-up" and "sweeten" each fruit. It's a different ratio for each kind of fruit, ie peaches, apricots, or plums or cherries. But if the branch has too many fruits, the fruits just won't be sweet or large enough. As farmers, we're not out there counting leaves to achieve the correct ratio. But we know by experience how many fruits to leave per branch. Our workers know at a glance which fruits to keep and which ones to remove.
More on thinning next week...