Thursday, April 6, 2017

Fruit for Thought

I read today that some parts of Georgia did not acquire enough "chilling hours" over this past winter to make a good peach crop. The temperature needs to be at or below 45 degrees F to count as being cold enough to provide the kind of rest that many plants, such as peach trees, need for good productivity in spring.

Different fruits, and different varieties of fruits, have different chilling hour requirements, but if the main crop didn't get enough cold weather, we may not get our fill of those smaller, super-flavorful Georgia peaches that make such good preserves.
"Toothpick" evidence of boring ambrosia beetles. PHOTO/AmyGWh

Could be a good year for strawberries. PHOTO/AmyGWh
The after-effects of our warm winter are probably going to cause trouble for more than just the peach growers.

In the orchard of one local community garden, I've already seen a different problem. Some of the trees have become infested by ambrosia beetles.

These beetles bore into the wood of the tree, and they can carry disease-causing organisms on their bodies right into the wood! If the boring activity of the beetles doesn't kill the trees, the other bits might.

The evidence that tells an observant gardener about the presence of ambrosia beetles is the odd protrusions, like toothpicks, sticking out from the trunk of the tree. 

To be honest, before about 2015 I hadn't seen much of this pest at all, but for the past couple of springs it has been abundantly present, attacking all kinds of thin-barked trees. Hint: check your crape myrtles!

The good fruit-news in my yard is that the strawberry patch is producing great masses of flowers. If all goes well, most of the flowers will turn into delicious fruits.

The patch has been fertilized and mulched, and the supports for the bird-netting (that also keeps out the chipmunks) are in place.

When the fruits are further along, I will set that netting out, but for now, it is great to have an unimpeded view of the flowers.

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