A new face lift for the kitchen down at the 31 market is happening right now. This past week-end people were looking for pies. Because we are in construction the bakery will not be going until mid June. Rose is very excited about the changes and is walking around with a big smile on her face. It was cold last night and John ran the wind machines to try to prevent any frost from forming. Let’s hope his efforts pay off. Things look good but if you had to ask me right now I would say cherry season is going to be late. I don’t see cherries for the 4th—however I’m hoping a major warm up proves me wrong. We still have asparagus in the market and it is wonderful. Betsy
Monthly Archive for May, 2008
I know that it is really spring because the asparagus is in. Beautiful and tender. We had it grilled, steamed, and sauteed with soy sauce. The big change everyone will notice this spring are the Poplar trees that ran along M-88. Most were very dead and we were hoping the state would take them down. After waiting a year longer than we should have, we have contracted to have a company come in and take them down. Yesterday with a big machine in tow, they would grab the trees and cut it off at the base. Then, they chipped the wood and blew them into a semi truck. The whole job was done in a day. We do have plenty of cleaning up of small branches yet to do. I am lucky to say I have a big pile of chips with my name on it just outside my door. My son Micheal said he felt naked because the trees had hid us from the road and now “hello”. Others said they like the change because the orchard is easier to see. Well, whether we like it or not the trees were dead and needed to come out. The blossoms are just about over in the cherries, and apples are just about to blossom. It wont be long before I will have cherries to sell.
Today Jim is planting the new raspberry block at the Creswell market. There won’t be many berries this year in the new block but next year we will be in business. We have been very happy with the 3 rows of raspberries we have at the M88 market. The workers are planting the last of the replacement trees where trees died.
We use a cool biopesticide when planting replacements. There is a bacteria that causes big knots on the roots of trees. We call it crown gall. It can kill or stop the growth on fruit trees. When panting replacements the trees are more at risk from this since we haven’t prepped the soil for a few years like in a new planting. So, there is a bacteria that will colonize the roots of a tree and repel the crown gall bacteria. When we plant replacements we soak the roots in the no-gall bacteria and we won’t get crown gall!!
I am watching for my neighbors to start planting field corn. When they start I will wait a couple days then start planting sweet corn.
We are awaiting a double bottom load of turkey manure. Due to food safety concerns we do all the turkey manure in the fall on bearing fruit trees, but we will be spreading by hand on the young non-bearing trees and we should get the best bang out of it in the spring. The workers hate this job as the turkey manure can be more smelly than you can imagine. It is eye-watering and nasty. The township gets odor complaints when we spread the turkey poop but a little rain and sun will soon knock down the odor.
Our trimming crew is really going to town. We called all the seasonal workers back April 1 and they have many acres to cover. We try to keep our most experienced workers in the small trees so that they can build a strong frame that will hold up under a large crop load in a few years. We do not want to crop too early so that we can build bigger more productive trees. (We are VERY proud of our young orchards)
The bees have arrived from their Florida vacation. Honeybees are not native th North America and have developed several parasites and health problems over the last several decades. So in response to that our local bee guy moved his operation to Florida for the winters so that the hive could continue to grow new bees year round. He will wait until we call (several times) that the blossoms are imminent and then he will load up several semi-trucks with bees, throw a net over them and then drive them to work in Michigan. When they get here the hives are loaded with healthy bees that get the job done. The bees are one of the great phenomenons of life. The hives are placed in the orchard after the trip from Florida and the next day the bees all go to work. However, a tree half a mile away from the hive will have just as many bees in it as the tree right beside the hive!! They are able to set up a work area grid somehow and they each have a unique assignment. Amazing to me. We will rent over 100 hives. They will do double duty as they start in apricots and cherry then peach and nectarine and finally apples and pears. We rarely get stung while working around all these bees. They are usually preoccupied with work, but occasionally we sit on one and get stung.
Monday night and Tuesday night the temps were forecast in the high 20s. Apricot bloom is open and sweet cherry is very close to opening. The developing buds of tart cherry are still quite susceptible to freeze damage. (tight cluster developing buds will freeze more readily than the expanding blossoms). So I checked the temps every hour Monday night until 5am then went out to the orchard and started up the wind machines. We never really know if they help but it seems to be better than doing nothing. I watch 2 digital thermometers and I check the nearby MSU weather site report (hourly). When I think we are going to have an inversion freeze (frost) I start the 6 wind machines.
On clear calm nights in the spring the earth may radiate away its heat. When that happens the surface (buds, blossoms, etc) can lose their heat and be colder than the air. The air is then cooled, and as it becomes more dense it flows to the low areas. We place wind machines in low areas to displace this cold air and to draw in warmer air from up above. The idea is that then warmer air will be drawn down into the orchard as colder air is pushed out of the low spots. We have three wind machines powered with Chevy 350s and they run at almost full throttle. We have 3 diesels made from school buses. When all 6 are going we are gulping 40 or so gallons of fuel per hour! So I don’t run them until I am sure it is going to freeze.
On Monday night the temps hovered around 29 until 5am then it cleared a little and it dropped to 26. I started up the machines and it stayed below freezing until 7.30am. On Tuesday the forecast was for even colder so I was watching the temps again. This time a breeze came up so there was no temperature inversion. It did not drop below 30 and I did not start the machines. Now we have a warming trend so I will catch up on sleep.
Incidentally, there was some damage to the tart cherry buds from Monday night. In the low areas many of the buds are damaged, and in the higher areas we can still find bad ons too. I don’t think it will be too significant, yet, however, Tuesday night the clouds cleared South of here and crops were damaged throughout Southern Michigan fruit growing areas. We will have to wait and see the economical impact of this.