May is apple blossom season in Central New York!
I worry like a farmer when the flower buds begin to open. Killing spring frosts are common and they can wreak havoc on new growth. We escaped those this year, but the bloom was greeted by cool, wet weather that greatly reduced the activity of bees and other insect pollinators.
Warm weather finally arrived! Several days of summer-like weather really perked things up and the bloom peaked.
We weren’t “out of the woods” yet. A clash of cold and warm air masses produced severe thunder storms, complete with high winds and hail. Wind in excess of 40 miles per hour damages trees, especially those that are predisposed due to poor form and/or location. Of the dozens of wild apple trees that I manage, two were affected. One, on soft, wet soil in a stream bottom, was uprooted completely and will become firewood and cottontail habitat later in the year. The other, pictured below, had poor structure: two large stems separated by a seam of “included” bark rather than solid wood. Lacking a strong connection, the trunks were ripped apart in the high winds.
Days after the storm, the resilience of nature was apparent. Most trees, as well as their blossoms, appeared to have survived our erratic spring weather and should produce some apples this fall.
The bloom is fading, the ground now littered with petals, but I’m still looking up. Rose-breasted grosbeaks, singing in the tree tops as they forage on flowers, have my attention!
Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.