Since your first newsletter of the year, sent in January, the weather has continued on a relatively helpful path, albeit a bit wetter in the last couple of weeks than has been helpful with regards to getting on the ground with machinery.
The cold weather and subsequent chill units required have now been received, and we have recorded comfortably over 1200 hours of chill units this winter. It may sound odd, but they have also been achieved in the best way with a good couple of weeks of frost that fully penetrated the soil, and temperatures in and around zero for that period.
The effects of having a cold winter like we have had are beneficial to the cherry trees and the buds as the extended cold sends the trees into full dormancy, which did not happen last winter. The benefits of the trees becoming fully dormant are that they stop using carbohydrate reserves and that when the weather finally warms up again in the spring the trees burst into life with greater vigour and more uniformity of flowering which can only be good for potential pollination and therefore subsequently this year’s crop. Obviously all of this means nothing if we get sharp frosts during blossom, but we’ll take the positives for this season whilst they’re there!
We have now received delivery of the 400 new trees that we are planting this spring – they are still safely wrapped up in the barn and we will plant these next week once the ground dries out again, as the recent heavy rain has made the soil conditions a bit heavier than we would like to plant into.
In the meantime we have been erecting the new post and wirework system to support the cherry netting in our new orchard at Northiam that we planted this time last year. This was marked out last week and we’ve spent the last 2 days drilling the 400 holes for the posts to be put into. We’ll finish getting the last of the posts in the holes today and then we’ve just got the 10,000 metres of wire to run out and attach to the posts – I definitely don’t need a pedometer to confirm whether I’m doing 10,000 steps a day at the moment!!
With the warmer weather of the last week there is a tiny amount of bud swell on some of our early flowering varieties. It’s still too early to pin down a date for the blossom weekend but it is highly likely to be one of the last 2 weekends in April, or the first weekend in May. Don’t worry too much about this at this stage as I’ll know an awful lot more in a month’s time as the buds continue to swell and develop, and I should be able to confirm dates a couple of weeks in advance to give you all time to make plans if you intend to come and enjoy the orchard in bloom, have a hog roast and enjoy everything else that we’ll have on offer that weekend.
Over the next few weeks as the buds start to swell and we get green tissue emerging, we will start to feed the trees with foliar sprays with a mixture of Liquid seaweed, a blended Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus mix and a high concentrate Phosphite feed which specifically targets root growth to stimulate the trees to get the best possible start at this time of year.
We will also need to apply a weed control under the trees to prevent the weeds from taking over and receiving the nutrients that we are trying to feed the trees with. We will do this on a dry and very calm day over the next few weeks so that we only affect the area that we are targeting.
You will be updated again, hopefully when spring is fully in the air, in just over a month’s time.