Sunny Slope Orchard

Sunny Slope Orchard
In the coast range foothills overlooking the Sacramento Valley

Monday, May 16, 2016

It's beginning to feel a lot like summer

Springtime's green hills are quickly fading to brown

Here we are in mid-May, a time of quickly changing seasons. The vibrant green hills of spring are fast turning dry and golden. Temperatures are rising and most likely we have seen about the last of this season's rain. All manner of plants are doing their best to produce seed, especially thistles and other invasive pests that require constant mowing and hand pulling to control. But our focus is mostly on the ripening fruit crop.

Last year we stripped just about all the fruit from our drought stressed trees, thinking this would help them endure that fourth year of drought. That seems to have payed off, as this year the trees are showing great vigor despite getting only 85% of average rainfall. After winter pruning to ensure plenty of space between trees for ladder access and light penetration, the strong growth has just about filled any empty space.

Vigorous spring growth in apricot trees 
Meanwhile the fruit is showing good color and sizing up nicely. The peaches are looking gorgeous, but are still small and hard. We guestimate the first picking will be around the first of June.

Ripening peaches tease with their vibrant red color, but are still hard as baseballs

As we mentioned in the previous post, our cots suffered a lot of cosmetic damage from untimely rains in March. We stripped off the worst affected fruit, but there will be quite a bit of speckled skin. Still, many are looking quite good and the size is impressive. We are just now starting to see the first hints of yellow among the green cots. And like the peaches, we project our first pickings will be around Memorial Day.

A few cots are just starting to change from green to yellowish
So for now we are feeling the familiar excitement of a fast and furious harvest season racing toward us. We are busy weeding, propping up heavily laden branches, banding tree trunks to protect against ants and earwigs, and setting up our famous bird scare machines. The shade cloth has been suspended over the citrus and figs to protect them from summer's heat.

Shade cloth helps shallow rooted trees like figs and
citrus cope with summer heat and limited water
As soon as picking starts in earnest we will be sending out an email to our regular customers letting you know what is ripe. Anyone wanting to be on our list, please email your contact information to sunnyslopeorchard [at] gmail [dot] com. 


Bill and Fern

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