Friday, September 9, 2016

Good year for fruit on the Front Range

It is often said that spring freezes are the biggest danger to fruit growing. This year many areas of the Front Range were spared freezes at flowering resulting in generally good fruit set.

Another reason for heavy fruiting is that stored energy is high because many trees bore little fruit in 2015. A warm fall in 2014 didn't allow many trees to prepare for cold weather. Sudden subzero temperatures in early November 2014 following the warm fall caused freeze injury to a variety of plant tissues some affecting flower buds. That and usual spring freezes resulted in generally light crops in 2015. Not using energy on fruit last year left trees with ample stores to carry a large crop to harvest this year.

It will be a good year for gleaning to donate to food pantries but do check with landowners first.

This street-side apple in Louisville, Colorado also illustrates another point. Trees sited in heavily irrigated and fertilized lawns often respond with excessive vigor. They show lots of shoot growth and poor fruiting. This apple in an obviously sparsely irrigated and little fertilized area is bearing a nice crop as pictured in the close-up above.

The take away message is that mature fruit trees do better on less water and fertilizer than is applied to grow medium to high quality bluegrass lawns. A separate non-lawn site for growing fruit trees is a better growing situation for producing fruit rather than leaves.

Photo credit: Both apple tree photos credit Carl Wilson

Friday, September 2, 2016

Varieties Adapted to Front Range Colorado

Amy's Apricot tomato
Cherry tomatoes are convenient for many people and golden cherry tomatoes have been of interest. Sun Gold is one that seems to do well in Denver and has become popular.

This year I tried another heirloom, Amy's Apricot, that did equally as well and has excellent flavor. An indeterminate type like Sun Gold, the only concern for some may be that Amy's Apricot is is 10 days later at 74 days versus Sun Gold at 55 to 65 days. carries Amy's Apricot seed.

Caroline fall bearing raspberry
Switching to small fruit, your fall bearing raspberries should be yielding well by now. If you are still growing Heritage red raspberry, consider switching to an earlier bearing variety when you pull out plants (generally necessary due to virus buildup after 10 years or so).

Newer fall raspberry varieties such as Caroline, Jaclyn and Autumn Britten bear fruit 2 weeks earlier. Late bearing Heritage has always been problematic with coming into bearing when frost danger may threaten in mid to late September.

Fall bearing raspberries are generally recommended in Colorado because they bear on first year canes; you don't need to worry about winter-kill of canes or buds as you do with summer bearing types that don't bear until their second year. Fall bearing types are easy for pruning too because canes are cut to the ground every year in December/January and regrow to produce a crop the next season.

Photo credit: Both photos credit Carl Wilson