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Fruit Trees Behind Normal Bud Development

April 23, 2019 | 1 min read

As the winter snowpack melts over the spring and summer, it is a significant source of irrigation water for Washington State farms.  The snowpack in Washington tends to peak in April.  This year statewide snowpack measured 80% of normal according to the Department of Ecology.

Federal water supply forecasters predict lower available water supplies this summer in all areas except the southernmost part of the state.  Thus far in April temperatures are warmer than normal, the concern is the snowpack will melt faster, leaving less water available for agriculture and fisheries.

Currently, due to the prolonged cold in February, fruit trees are 7-10 days behind normal bud development.  In Washington, the first to bloom will be stone fruits; plums, apricots, peaches and nectarines followed by cherries.  Then the pip fruits bloom; pears and apples.  The photo shows the apple growth stages: 

The expectation at this point in time, is that apple harvest will be delayed, which can be concerning to growers of later harvesting varieties such as Fuji, Granny Smith, and Pink Lady as there may be a rush to get the fruit harvested before first frost in mid-November.

The industry uses Red Delicious as the benchmark for determining full bloom and harvest timing, on April 2nd Red’s, at the WSU Tree Fruit Research Center where at green tip (photo 3 above).  The 93-year full bloom average is May 4th and it could be later than that this year.  The latest was May 16, 1922.

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