Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association

Orchard Report

March 23, 2013

By Tami Schlies

If you’ve been to the membership forums, you’ll find a section where people are posting the results of the past winter. Very interesting to see what survived and what didn’t in various parts of the state.

Like many people, I had terrible dieback on my Evans cherries. They are about eight years old, with five inch trunks. I have about 2/3 dead wood on two trees, and one died clear to the ground, but is sending out sucker shoots. I’m debating whether or not I want to allow a sucker to re-establish a tree or to start over with a Romeo I ordered for next year.

The Crimson Passion cherry did great and now has some fat cherries set. My two Northstars (still in pots) from One Green World are dead without hope.

My Kraznobkaya pear in the ground had serious dieback, but the ones in pots weathered really well. I need to get my hands on another variety (Krazulya? Larinskaya? Anyone have those?) Not that I have room to plant more trees! It’s an addiction.

I thought for sure my Amur grape would die, but it pulled through and is growing beautifully. It may be planted over my septic crib (we’re not exactly sure of the dimensions, since it is 40 years old), so the ground could have had a hint of residual warmth there.

The Red Jade currants had a lot of dead branches, but that may be in part because they were hit so hard by currant worms last year, then the moose did a number on them over the winter. But they have put on new growth (no flowers/fruit) and I’ve been keeping up on the neem oil for the worms, so I have hope for next year.

Some Canby Thornless raspberries seemed to suffer damage, but the Heritage are hale and healthy, and the Mammoth are still kicking (They are in pots – shame on me. I need a bigger yard.)

The kiwi vines are dripping with fruit, but my new pullets have taken up roosting in the thicket, so we’ll see how many berries actually reach maturity. I do love the canopy the leaves create.

All my apple varieties pulled through, including the little Silken I planted last fall. A little dieback, but not bad, considering the damage to so many other plants. Mice girdled the Drew Brook completely, but that was the most awful tasting apple ever, so I’m glad to have an excuse to replace it.

All mature trees are setting fruit except for the Lowland Raspberry, which tried to flower but seems to have an issue with the buds. It had a few flower buds last year, too, and it looks like something is eating the buds from the inside out before they open. I can’t see any insects when I check, however. Any ideas what might be doing that? Some of the fruit spurs do seem to have suffered desiccation damage, but not enough to affect my harvest this year.

If you have a chance, stop by the new forum and let everyone know how your fruit fared through the year. Or consider sending me a report to include in the next newsletter!