Archive for March, 2012

Fruit Tree Umbrella

Last year, I did not harvest a single fruit from our Blenheim apricot tree. After a week or 2 of heavy rains in March 2011, the newly forming fruits were covered with mildew. Sometime later, they fell off.

This year, I am determined not to let rain ruin my apricot crop a second year in a row. So two weeks ago, when I heard that a week or more of rain was in our forecast, I decided to try an unconventional approach. I read on a website that some people cover their fruit trees to protect them from heavy rains. So I decided to give this technique a try.

Above is a picture of our apricot tree after we covered it with a clear plastic drop cloth. I used a .7 mil thick drop cloth that I purchased in the paint section of local big box home improvement store. I attached the drop cloth to the branches of the tree with clothes pins. I selected a thin drop cloth, because I wanted it to be easy to drape over the tree and light enough not to damage the blossoms. Getting the drop cloth on the tree was a challenge. We used a ladder and a pruning pole to drape the cloth over the tree and then spread it out. Our tree is only about 8-9 feet tall, because I prune it a lot. Trying to drape a drop cloth over a large tree would probably be impractical. The drop cloth stayed on the tree for a week through several days of rain including one night of heavy downpours. Last weekend, strong winds ripped it to shreds.

I left the apricot tree uncovered this past week, because we had dry weather. So far, it looks like the drop cloth was successful. Several small apricot fruits have already formed, and there is no sign of mildew on them.

However, a few days ago our weather forecasters predicted several more days of rain starting today. I think once most of the fruits have set they can survive the rain, but I don’t think they are there yet. Many of the apricot blossoms have just dropped their petals and have not formed fruit yet. That seems to be the time when they are most vulnerable to being knocked off by heavy rain or getting mildew after being exposed to several days of damp weather.

I covered our apricot tree again yesterday afternoon with a new clear drop cloth. This time I used a 1 mil 10′ x 20′ drop cloth, hoping the extra thickness would make it less prone to being torn by the wind. I also covered our multi-grafted pluot tree, which was easy to do because it’s so small (see picture below).

March 24 2012 | Apricots | 3 Comments »