There is a seasonal rhythm to the orchards. As the cherry and plum blossom begin to fade, the first vivid green leaves on the apple trees start to unfurl. Nestled in the middle are the nascent flower buds that with warm, sunny days will swell. Cherry and plum set the tempo for the annual blossom show, but it is the apple orchards that provide the grand finale.
As the apple trees develop in the Spring and the buds are on the cusp of opening, it’s a nervous time for orchard owners. The weather at this time of year is critical for a successful crop in the Autumn. Night frosts can damage the developing fruit buds and prevent the fruit from setting. Heavy rain, strong winds or low temperatures will discourage insect pollinators to start foraging. Apple trees are only in flower for a couple of weeks so the opportunity for successful pollination is limited.
Last year the chilly Spring weather delayed the blossom by nearly four weeks. But, when the trees did flower eventually, the longer daylight hours and warmer weather meant the bees and hoverflies were active and the risk of frost had diminished.
This year a warm and exceptionally wet winter has caused problems. In some parts of the country, it is feared that the winter flooding may prevent many of the fruit trees coming into blossom at all this year.
If you would like to enjoy this year’s apple blossom, many orchards throughout Herefordshire and the other apple growing counties will be open to the public from the end of April/ beginning of May. Check out your local newspapers for details.
Orchard Origins will be at the Spring Greens Fair on 3 and 4 May 2014 where we will be selling our cider and apple juice.