Archive for August, 2010

Chlorosis Solved
August 27, 2010

In years past some trees have shown symptoms of chlorosis, appearing like they’re not getting enough nitrogen.  Leaves would be white and get really burnt in our hot sun, and trees like the peaches and cherries would really get fried and burn a lot of leaves. 

I tested the soil and there’s plenty of nitrogen available, but the high alkali content and low iron was keeping the plants from getting it, so this winter I applied a whole lot of Ironite throughout the whole orchard. 

There has been a dramatic difference, with no white leaves and not nearly as much burning, even through our latest heat wave of 107.  I have seen no adverse effects from having too much iron, and so if you have high alkali soil, feel free to apply it heavily, watering it in well.  Make sure you don’t get any granuals on the sidewalk though, as when they get wet they’ll stain it with rust from their iron content.

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Messing With the Clock
August 15, 2010

Let’s say someone asked you to ship trees to Burundi or Congo for the start of their rainy season, which is in late August or early September.  And chances are that the trees will sit in a sweltering customs warehouse for a week or two on the way to Rwanda, where they will be driven on a bus to neighboring Congo; thus, they need to be quite dormant.  How do you find dormant trees at the peak of growing season without resorting to Australia or New Zealand?

You start the rootstocks from Anna seeds, putting them in the refrigerator before Thanksgiving and sprouting them just after Christmas.  The seedling rootstocks above have been growing since then and were bud-grafted in early July, and are now ready for harvest.

These are dug up and the top of the tree lopped off right above the bud graft, barely visible as a white dot about 1/2″ from the left end of the tree trunk.  At this stage they are known as “sleeping eyes” and will be put in a bag in the refrigerator for two weeks to chill, which will re-set the clock on the low-chill Anna and hopefully make them sprout.  What gives me confidence that this might work?  See the photo below.

This Anna bud graft started pushing without any chilling at all, and produced this 8″ sprout with the rootstock still actively growing.  Anna and Dorsett Golden don’t need much of an excuse to grow, and will make the most of what energy is left in the roots even after the top of the tree was cut off while actively growing, before dormancy moves the energy down the the roots.  We’ll keep you updated on how this worked out once they’re planted in Central Africa.

Summer Gala
August 8, 2010

Gala set  a nice crop again this year, as it does every year.  The ones here are very firm and sweet, with a rush of banana essence at your first bite.  The ones in the store are tasteless right now, and if it wasn’t competing against the nectarines, this would dominate the summer fruit menu here at our house.

But being a school district construction manager, ripening Galas also bring about an urgency that school starts in a couple weeks, and the new classrooms are not ready for students yet.  Some day when I’m retired I’ll probably enjoy seeing the Galas ripen, but for right now they just mean that I’m late and running out of time.

Mutsu
August 7, 2010

I had been told Mutsu does well here, but had not tried it yet.  This year my tree gave one apple, and it fell a bit prematurely, a victim of codling moth.  Still, it was crisp, juicy, sweet, and a bit tangy.  These are all good signs, as mushiness dooms many apples to the shredder at this point (which American Summer Pearmain is sadly destined for).