This May has ended up exceptionally warm. The apple trees did bloom early, but there wasn’t a frost the entire time the apple trees were in bloom, and there hasn’t been one since. That is nice. In fact, that is excellent. To not have all my apple blossoms ruined by frost is one relief. However, there are other problems. I’m not entirely sure of the cause, but I have observed several things about the apple trees this year.
(1) The apple blossoming didn’t appear as heavy as other years.
(2) I didn’t see very many bees around the apple trees when they were in flower.
(3) Now the the blossoms have died away it doesn’t look like very many of the flowers set fruit.
The why for these facts could have several (even a multitude) of causes. Two which occur to me is, first, it might have been a hard winter for the honey bees and so there weren’t many around to pollinate the flowers. Second, the unusually hot and humid weather might have adversely affected the apple flowering. How, I can’t say because I’m not an expert on apple trees but May around here is rarely so hot and humid as the month has turned out this year. Who knows, the blossoms could have contracted some kind of fungus or rot. That is what the paranoid part of me thinks. The paranoid part of me also wonders if I didn’t prune the trees enough and so the shade of the branches contributed to the shade and retained water which in turn would help spur the grow of fungus . . . ah, but I don’t want my thoughts to go there.
But all is not lost. Exactly how skimpy the harvest will be remains to be seen. It is hard to do an estimate of the crop harvest when the new fruit is still smaller than my little finger nail. By my current observations the flower failure varies between trees so where one tree appears to have significant loss another might not be so bad. Also, a bit of flower failure is not problem because an apple tree will often try to overproduce and to get decent size fruit you need to thin the apples anyhow. This is what I tell myself for reassurance, but I am nervous. A bit of fruit loss is no problem, but a glance seems to put the loss for one tree at 10 failed flower to 1 success. That strikes me as alarmingly steep.
Angst over apples aside, I think the latter portion of May is my favorite time of year. The apple trees and the lilac bushes bloom at about the same time and the appearance and fragrance of these flowers is the essence of this season. In the cool of the evening the aroma of the lilac bushes is particularly strong. I like to sit out on the porch in the fading light and savor the mixing evening smells, or else walk down the street with the lilac bushes blooming along the side.
All too quickly the flowers, both apple and lilac, are gone, and their fragrance, too. In a way it seems like the rest of the year is downhill from here.