Although the rain has returned, the blossoms are out. I went out to visit the orchard yesterday after not being out there for several days and was struck by the chorus of trees almost all at some stage of bloom. All shades of pink, white and red brightened the fog veiled drizzle. The cool wet weather is a far from ideal for pollination. The majority of pollinators prefer the warmth of the sun and a calm wind. I was happy to see a few bumble bees buzzing around the wet violets and dandelions under some of the trees, but I am hoping for some drier warmer weather before the petals fall.
Some of the early blooming varieties already have a light carpet of petals under their branches, signaling the need for the first spraying of the Kaolin clay, which will hopefully help protect the young fruits from European Apple Sawfly, Codling Moth and Plum Curculio all of which tend to find their way into the orchard during or soon after bloom. If I had more time and resources I would have traps out to monitor the pests and their arrival, instead I will have to rely on the less accurate, but sill useful degree day tracking method to estimate when the first of these insects may pose a threat to the developing fruit. In an ideal world, I would already have made the first application of the Kaolin clay, but the rain makes applying it almost impossible and if there is one thing I already knew before I got into all this, it is that the reality tending an orchard is more often than not, far from ideal. Once in a while though, when you are surrounded by blossoms, flitting birds and the aromatic spring air, you forget all that and just appreciate it for what it is.