By Heidi Lewis
The National Cherry Blossom Festival was recently held in Washington, D.C. This year’s festival commemorated the centennial of Japan’s gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the U.S. in 1912. The ornamental trees rim West Potomac Park’s Tidal Basin, which reflects their snowy canopy. Their beauty and a slew of special events attract about a million visitors to the festival annually.
This year the event was scheduled between March 20 and April 27. Alas, the blossoms peaked nearly a month early due to a warm winter. Ten days later, the walkways were littered with petal drifts.
Have you noticed an earlier than usual flowering of your neighborhood trees? Many U.S. regions have experienced a premature warming trend with a bit more consequence. Coming out early puts fruit blossoms in jeopardy of the last of winter’s wrath. When the soil warms, buds emerge; when the air warms and the blossoms open, the petals fall away, and the tiny fruit sets. At that delicate stage, any frost, hard rain, or hail can easily damage them.
Late spring storms and frosts affected many of our farmers across the country these past weeks. Severe frosts wrecked much of the grape and apple crops of Mick Klug Farm in St. Joseph, MI, and wiped out 75 percent of the apple crop at Nichols Farm & Orchard in Illinois. Hail knocked numerous baby plums to the ground at B&L Farms in Fresno County, CA; and Kauffman’s Fruit Farm cherry orchard in Lancaster County, PA, took a major hit. All these farms are family-run, and damaged crops impact their livelihood.
As The FruitGuys’ buyers assess the impact of the weather on spring fruit, buyer Rebecca North says, “We are still committed to working with these farmers, especially as they may feel the financial impact of these short but not-so-sweet storms. This may mean some aesthetically challenged pieces of fruit in FruitGuys cases. Hail or other weather damage may leave some scarring on the outside, but the inside is still delicious!”
There are numerous interpretations to T.S. Eliot’s quote “April is the cruelest month”—as our farmers well know, none of us are out of reach of winter’s backhand in April.
As always, see what’s in your mix this week and where it came from by visiting our Mix Pages.
Enjoy & Be Fruitful!