The South Lakeland Orchard Group - Orchard
This year started with the second wettest February in the last ten years, but all other months rainfall have been below average. This provided plenty of soil moisture to get the trees off to a good start at bud burst. Blossom was early, most of it coming in late April, and magnificent.
Lancashire Pippin in late April.
Unlike the last two seasons, we got through spring without any frost damage. This means a heavy fruit set. June drop will see some excess fruitlets released but there is likely to be a need to hand thin so we expect to organise a working party in the second half of July to deal with this and to sort out a few other issues such as a rotted post and loose canes.
We are seeing the usual pests and diseases popping up: tent caterpillars appeared end May/early June; these can easily be removed by hand, the sooner the better. Also, there is quite a lot of apple scab due to the damp showery weather in May & June.
Our 2021 DNA results finally came back in May, having been delayed several weeks due to problems with the reagents used in the laboratory. A couple of Yorkshire varieties gave surprising results: Nancy Jackson was identified as Ribston Pippin, yet the foliage of the two look very different. Since the two trees are adjacent and almost intertwined, there may be sampling error so this one will be repeated. The very old early dessert variety Joaneting turned out to be Summer Golden Pippin. A Canadian variety Norland was identified as another Canadian variety MacIntosh. Two very old varieties Dr. Harvey and Court Pendu Plat were identified as the rootstock MM106. The scion wood for both of these was taken from trees at Growing Well, so it is probable that the grafts failed on those trees and the rootstock simply took over without anyone noticing. So we will be removing some of these false varieties in November and replacing them with other candidates of hopefully more reliable authenticity.