Well. we are still eating apples but it has definitely not been a bumper year, the Bramleys have now developed Bitter pit but Crawley Beauty is keeping us in cooking apples, we are still eating the last of the Jonagold and the Idared which is rapidly losing it's flavour.
Dave went to Yarmouth last week to look at and prune the trees at Yarmouth Community Orchard, the trees are looking good although a couple have had to be replaced. There was a little vandalism with the tops being broken out of some of the trees but most are flourishing. Home pruning has not started yet.
Jill Cowley met Dave at Yarmouth and gave him a couple of apples from her home orchard for me to look at, they won't win any prizes in a beauty competition but here is one of them, a Wootton Costard, pictured below, the other was a Leathercoat Russet which looks just like a squashed ball of leather. I haven't tried the taste test! I always like to see apples I have not met before so Thank you Jill.
Thank you also to everyone for their emails over the winter, I have answered them all, in most cases I hope usefully. Some are simple and quick but I see from my list that one query took 20 emails between myself and the gentleman who sent it to sort out the query about his orchard, I think it was a satisfactory conclusion in the end. We like a challenge and when I am not sure of the answer I can ask Dave which sometimes leads to a good 'discussion' and all the reference books off the shelf. It keeps us busy so please keep the emails coming.
I read an interesting article about 'chill hours' as part of the yearly cycle in fruit production. A 'chill hour' is when the temperature is between 1 and 10 degrees C - sub zero temperatures don't count. Fruit trees grown in the UK need about 984 hours or 41 days during the winter when the temperature is below 10 degrees C. If temperatures don't fall trees fail to go into proper dormancy - this causes problems with fruit production, pests and diseases. So another reason for a poor apple year?
Visit www.ptes.org/planner for a useful planner for the work to be done in an orchard over the year.