Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Apples after bloom

The past ten days have been mild and dry, perfect weather for apple after-bloom progress. On May 28th I photographed a cluster of tiny apples forming on the Golden Russet tree just after petal fall. It's possible to see some of the dried petals still attached; they are orange colored. The styles and stamens are prominent but they too will dry up and fall. Below the sepals the tiny apples are beginning to swell and form. The Golden Russet is one of the later-blooming trees, excellent for cider. For the first seven or eight years after planting it didn't bear; for the next eight it was shy in bearing; but for the last few years it has borne an increasing amount of apples that, true to form, are russeted and not very attractive. But their taste is sweet and very pleasant. Possibly in a few more years it will bear enough for both cider and for eating; at the moment, the apples are too few and too tasty to blend in cider.

To the right is the Prima tree, the same cluster I've already shown twice at earlier stages. Here, with this variety earlier to bloom, the apples that are forming below the sepals are larger and further along than in the Golden Russet above. I've numbered them to show that #s1, 2, and 4 are well formed while #3 is not developing very well--compare, also, the thicknesses of the stems. It's now June, and time for the "June drop" when, in theory, all but the strongest of these little apples will drop off, leaving only one to grow. #3 will surely drop off first. #2 looks like the winner, but sometimes not all of the little ones drop, with the result that two smaller apples grow from the cluster. Certain varieties, such as Liberty, habitually don't do very well in the June drop, and so they should be thinned by hand. The Prima usually does pretty well. I will watch this cluster and see what happens. 

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