Sunday, April 6, 2014

FRUIT TREE SUCCESS / FAIL UPDATE

When I was at the farm, I roamed around to check the fruit trees we planted last year.  It was time to see how everything fared after the first year "in the ground" at the farm.  We had a hot and fairly dry Summer, and then we had a colder than usual Winter, so we needed to see how hardy the tree varieties were that we chose.  I took the first batch of these photos a couple of weeks before the 'big ice storm' so read through for the final outcome of all.




This is a the beginning of a peach blossom.  There are quite a few of these on the tree.  This will be the second year for the peach but our first Spring with it and I understand the flowers are beautiful.





This is one of the two fig trees, about ready to leaf out (the other is the same).  We can't wait to get some figs (hopefully anyway) this year.



This is one of the two pear trees we planted, it made it through the Summer and Winter as well, not to mention the bark damage from rubbing animals.








And this is the pomegranate, it is covered in leaves and new growth so it made it through the Winter as well. We weren't sure that this was going to make it, but it did so at least we know it's a hardy one.









I didn't get pictures, but the two mayhaw trees, while still spindly and not growing as much as we'd like, are starting to bud out in tiny little leaf buds, so for now, they are a success as well.

As for losses though, we did lose a few fruit trees.  Lost one of the pears.  It's turned brown/black, not sure if it was the freeze since the other did well.  Lost the plum, but I believe that was due only to the ground and area it was planted in.  It's not a freeze sensitive tree, so it had to be the clay soil.  Also lost all three citrus trees.  Boo!  The Meyer Lemon, the Mexican Lime and the Satsuma Orange.  Sad because we really wanted to have fresh citrus.  I think the lemon and lime were lost because of the freeze.  They made it through the Summer, but our freezing was colder than normal and I wasn't able to keep them covered with every freeze.  We'd be 70 degrees one day, and then wake up and it was 30 and then 20 and then back up to 60...I just couldn't make it out there to cover and uncover.  Until the day we are out there full time, I'm afraid we might not be able to have citrus.  I might try one more time, we'll see.  The orange was a Satsuma which normally all do very well in our part of the country, so I think that one was also a location issue.

We still have the Olive and the Avocado in town where we can care for them but I might get those in the ground here soon once freezing is not a possibility.  We will definitely buy a new plum tree, and plant it in a different area, because we love plums and they do well down in these parts.






And now, an update since I took the above pics prior to the big "Frozen" days.  Even with the thick layer of ice, the fruit trees continued budding out!  These are the peach blossoms, and they are opening up. Yay!







And here is the pear, the one that survived and it is opening up as well. After being covered in a thick layer of ice, all of these trees just sailed right through.  It's kind of amazing to see nature at work, isn't it?






Sadly though, the pomegranate that had leafed out in the earlier picture, is now covered in crunchy brown leaves.  I'm going to assume the tree is fine, it's just the leaves that didn't make it after being frozen under ice for a period of time.  

Still not a bad outcome for the first year in the ground.  I did some pruning of the wiry branches so we should be doing good this Spring.  Fingers crossed!








Lastly, this is one of the only casualties of the day of ice.  This branch on "Ginger" (we name our trees, don't judge, LOL) was just too weak to hold the weight of the ice and snapped off.  If that's the only damage from the heavy coating of ice that was on everything, we're OK.

11 comments:

Kev Alviti said...

Buy some rootstocks and graft your own fruit trees to replace the ones you lost - It's easier than you think and saves loads of money.

SmartAlex said...

Have faith in the pomegranate. Our Mulberry trees almost always get their first leaves frozen like that but they soldier on.

1st Man said...

You know, I've never done that, I certainly like trying new things. I might have to research that. Never thought about it, thanks!!

1st Man said...

Thank you for the reassurance. Yes, the leaves got all brown and crunch and I was hoping it would bounce back. I will keep my eyes peeled for leaf buds.

Gail said...

Dad used to spray a fine film of water on trees when he knew freeze was coming. It works and saved the early buds.

You have a wonderful crop of possibilities. I look forward to seeing the fruit emerge.

Anonymous said...

So glad that some of your trees made it through our awful ice storm. Your peach and pear blossoms are gorgeous!

I have about 30 varied fruit trees in my mini-orchard on my previously-vacant extra lot - I live about 60 miles southwest of Houston. I was advised by a local horticulturist to put about 50 lbs. of mulch around each tree in the autumn - push up the mulch as high as you can go on the trunk. It will protect the graft. In the spring, pull the mulch away from the trunk so it can breathe. All of my trees survived the ice storm. My Meyer lemon tree is about 10 years old and way too big to cover completely - so I bought some 48" wide blanket-fleece material from Walmart, enough to "skirt" all around the bottom of it. I used clothespins to secure it to the tree and bricks to secure it to the ground. I left it all winter. I also "skirted" an orange tree and some others. With the mulch around the trunk and the fleece skirt, my citrus came through beautifully.
As for my Mexican Key Lime, I have to watch the weather report like a hawk - if it comes close to a freeze, in addition to the mulch, I cover it with 2 layers of blankets. I hammered several rebars into the ground around the Key Lime to keep a layer of air between the draped blanket and the tree. So until you move out to the Farm full-time, you probably won't be able to keep the Key Lime alive in the ground in winter. You could have one in a large pot in the city and just roll it in each freezing night.

There are now some Satsuma trees which are more cold-hardy and are on their own roots, not grafted: Arctic Frost Hardy Satsuma. They are grown by Greenleaf Nursery based in El Campo, Texas. They are available at nurseries in our SE Texas area.

Happy Spring and Happy Planting!

Texas Rose


FionaG said...

Nothing screams spring to me more than peach blossom. I am curious as to your avocado variety as they are quite frost sensitive.

Gammy Tammy said...

Oh my goodness, I just can't keep up with your posts! (smile) This post reminds me of the time when I lived in AR. A tremendous storm came through and while EVERYTHING was absolutely gorgeous encased in ice, the weight killed 3 out of 5 pecan trees. One broke and fell from the base. Glad most of your plants survived. Looking forward to the peach blossom pictures!

Sandy said...

1st Man,

I would place a bit of chicken wire around the base of each tree to prevent the animals from rubbing against them. I'm sorry to hear you lost several tree's but you sure do have some nice looking buds on those trees that survived the freeze.

Lynda said...

It always breaks my heart to lose a tree...but almost every year I do. This year I lost a grapevine and an apple. Your photos are great.

1st Man said...

You know, I've heard of that, water before the freeze. Seems counter intuitive but then again, it works doesn't it?

Hoping for first fruit this season. We'll see.