Friday, May 3, 2013

Strawberry Harvest Delayed by Cold Spring

   Strawberry plants are blooming well now.  Some blossoms were killed last week by freezing temperatures, so the crop will be reduced somewhat, and harvest will start a full 4 weeks later than last year.  Estimated strawberry harvest time this year should be about May 18 to June 10 or so.  I've been painting the new highway sign for strawberries on cold, wet days.
Strawberry plants are blooming well now. Some blossoms, such as the ones at far left and bottom right with black centers, were killed last week by freezing temperatures, but most blooms are still alive and will set fruit.
   Strawberries are sold pick-your-own only, by appointment only.  Call 620-597-2450 a few days before you want to come harvest strawberries, and leave a message on the answering machine saying the day and time you want to pick, with your phone number.  I'll call you back to confirm.
   We also have harvested asparagus for sale by order, now till about June 15.  During the 3 days this past week when temperatures reached 85 to 87 F, I harvested asparagus twice a day, and sold a lot.  With highs in the 40's, it doesn't grow much, but it's supposed to get warmer next week.
   We still have lots of nice 'Enterprise' and 'GoldRush' apples for sale, kept in top condition in our cooler.  There are plenty of large apples, both #1's and #2's, plus some smaller #1 'Enterprise' apples that I sorted for schools, which prefer the smaller size as they're perfect for kids' lunches.  With schools winding down for the year, I have a couple boxes of these smaller #1 'Enterprise' apples that I can sell to those who ask for them.
I used a paintbrush to pollinate stigmas of flowers I'd emasculated on this 'GoldRush' tree with Coop 27 pollen I'd collected, dried and stored in the vial, to create controlled crosses of  'GoldRush' X Coop 27.
   In between the cold spells and rains, I made controlled crosses of 'Enterprise', 'GoldRush' and Coop 27 blooms for my apple breeding program.  I'll harvest seeds from the fruit that develop from these crosses, stratify the seeds over winter in the fridge, then plant them in pots in spring 2014.  Next week I'll be planting seeds from crosses I made in 2012, then in fall I plant the seedlings out in the field.  Seedling trees from crosses I made 6 or 7 years ago are now blooming, and I'll evaluate the fruit this fall.  Since I use only parents immune to apple scab disease, all the seedlings should be scab-immune, and I'll evaluate for fruit quality and resistance to other diseases, such as fire blight and cedar-apple rust.  It takes many years to develop and test new apple varieties, but that is how 'Enterprise' and 'GoldRush' apples were developed.
Plumcots are pea-sized now, when I started thinning excess fruit.  I thinned off damaged fruit and double fruit, such as the one in the center of the photo, caused by cold temperatures during bloom and fruit set.
   I started thinning plumcots last week, during hot afternoons so I got some shade.  We have a good crop of plumcots this year, and with early thinning they should get good size and ripen in late June.  The peach crop will need a lot of thinning again this year, and it'll be time to start thinning peaches in about 10 days.