Note from Farmer Al: April 8, 2019
Dear CSA Members,
Good news. We do have apricots this year. In fact, every one of our 12+ varieties has some fruit. Some, like the Apaches & Kettleman, are very light crops. Others, like the Golden Sweets, are just average. But in a rainy year like 2019, the average is really good.
The bad news: Brown Rot is everywhere in every apricot tree. Brown Rot is a fungus. It invades the tree through the delicate, fragile flower parts, gets established in the plant tissue, and then travels through the cambium layer of the slender branches killing the branch. The branch turns brown and dries up. It looks dead because it is dead. And in apricots this invasive fungus is deadly… it will travel down the cambium layer from the small twigs down through the larger, ever larger, branches all the way back down to the ground, killing the entire tree. This doesn’t happen in peaches, nectarines, plums or cherries. They all can get Brown Rot but only in the blossoms. So it can destroy the crop but it won't kill the entire orchard. But apricots get it bad. We could lose the entire orchard if we don’t act quickly. This means surgical removal… pruning. So for the last three weeks, the tree team has been busy pruning out at least 100 dead twigs per tree. Very time consuming and very costly.
Weed control is another challenge this year. With all this rain the weeds are growing like crazy. My ground team is busy with their weed whackers trimming 3 ft tall weeds around all 50,000 of our tees. Its a monumental task but they are really good at it. And I am celebrating the good increase of organic matter around the trees.
All in all, its shaping up to be a good year in 2019
All my best,