Biennial Break

This year has been a particularly nasty one so far for the fruit growers out there.
It all started with the obscenely warm winter, followed by a quick warm up in March.

We didnt have any snowpack here in the Hudson Valley of New York to support the usual slow rise of temperatures in the month of March, so once the sun angle became high enough and the warm air masses started to flow in, there was nothing to keep temperatures down. Fruit trees budded and blossomed, then it all came crashing down in April, in which we saw multiple hard freezes which turned this:

into this:

This all stems from a La Nina winter here in the Northeast. I cant remember a winter that warm and dry. I wasnt complaining at the time, no snow to drive in and no frigid air to live with for 3-4 months. All that convenience is being paid back 10 fold to the fruit growers whom are showing huge crop losses across the northern growing states, which include New York, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Ontario Apple Disaster: 

Typical La Nina weather pattern:

Granted, this weather pattern has been going on since before man could measure ocean temperatures, but the effects of El Nino and La Nina have been more closely monitored with modern meterology measuring devices. The source of the massive fluctuations in ocean temperatures hasnt been identified.

An El Nino or La Nina year doesnt necessarily guarantee a rubber band year of the opposite effect, however in most years there is a rebound the other way. Last year, early 2011 we were hammered with snow storms here in the Northeast, so it seems natural that this extremely dry winter in 2012 was a rubber band La Nina to last year’s El Nino.

My Kidd’s Orange Red has been delayed because it was just transplanted and I have trees shading it more than it should because my tree guy hasnt come yet to remove a bunch of trees I asked him to take care of.  *Shakes Fist* But it seems to have worked out, even though I wont allow my Kidd’s Orange Red to fruit, it will be nice to see the blossoms this year that so many in the Northeast saw turn brown in a matter of a week. Tight cluster right now for that tree. On my Jonamac, which had 1/2 green stage during the April freeze is showing signs of frost bite on many of its leaves, so it also did not completely escape the cold.

That brings me back to the title of this post, “Biennial Break”.
This major freeze may be the break a lot of biennial trees seek before putting out a big crop the following year. This could be the chance a lot of growers look for to break the biennial cycle of fruit one year and no fruit the next. This will be a no fruit year for most, and with thinning control next year with an abundant crop, more consistent years may follow. It will be interesting to see if fruit growers use this year as a maintenance year on trees to prune them out and thin them next year for a better quality crop, we will see in 2013.

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