A GROWING CONCERN: Do your fruit tree maintenance now

THE WEATHER PATTERN on the North Olympic Peninsula has definitely been interesting this year.

We have gone from freezing temperatures in March to record-high temperatures to days of rain, clouds and more rain, then sun and high temperatures.

Still, with all the variance and unusual circumstances in our weather conditions, the Peninsula is as always an extremely conducive place for growing trees, plants, flowers, vegetables and fruit.

With that in mind, I received a few questions concerning fruit trees.

I want to address those inquiries by first restating that we live in an absolutely ideal climate and topography for fruit production (perhaps the best in the world).

Those aforementioned record-setting hot days of April and May still dipped into the 50s and 60s at night.

It is hot nights, with temperatures in the 80s or above, that stress out fruit trees.

Temperatures also must be in the single digits or lower to cause deleterious long-term damage to fruit trees, and that just doesn’t happen here.

All of these factors means our fruit takes longer to ripen.

This extended period to ripen enhances and consolidate the sugars, so our produce is not bitter.

If you ever wanted great fruit, then here on the Peninsula is where you should have fruit trees or berries, so please consider planting some new species or varities this fall, starting in October.

Now, as far as apples are concerned, August is a great time to perform several pruning tasks.

First, before the new sucker shoots leap forward and grow what could actually be a couple of feet, prune them away.

To do so now achieves several benefits, most notably getting rid of those nasty, energy-purging suckers.

Our goal is to get as much moisture and energy as possible toward great fruit production, and suckers are in direct conflict with this goal.

Because of the accelerated growth of suckers, what is now an easy job will become more difficult in later years.

In addition, one should never prune away more than 30 percent of a fruit tree.

Pruning more will cause the plant to become vegetative as opposed to fruit-bearing, and may take years to recover.

Next, seek out and remove any and all branches that rub against another branch.

Then remove crossover branches – those that shoot three across other branches.

These are all undesirable, and the sooner they are removed, the more energy is directed toward desirable growth and fruit production.

Then, as always, look for any dead, dying or damaged limbs and stems and prune them away, for these will foster disease and insects.

Finally, shape-prune your trees by clipping off an errant branch here or there.

Again, the quicker you shape the tree while growth is new and small, the easier the task is and the less energy you have wasted.

The tree looks much better as well.

In addition, if you do these chores now, you will allow far more sunlight to penetrate the interior of the tree, which in turn means a far better change to evenly ripen the fruit.

And with all those suckers gone, crossover branches removed and errant limbs cut away, air movement will be increased, which greatly reduces disease, mold and mildews.

These pruning chores are great for apples, pears, peaches and nectarines.

But be very careful with cherries and plum trees; the sap bleeds very readily, and any large cuts can cause great damage.

Good luck and happy harvesting, canning, baking and eating jams or drinking juice.

________

Andrew May is an ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsula dailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

More in Life

Katie Lee of Port Angeles examines a table of perennial plants during Saturday’s annual plant sale and raffle at the floral barn at the Clallam County Fairgrounds in Port Angeles. The sale, hosted by the Port Angeles Garden Club, was a fundraiser for club projects and scholarships, and it featured a wide variety of plants for the upcoming growing season and beyond. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Plant sale at Clallam County Fairgrounds

Katie Lee of Port Angeles examines a table of perennial plants during… Continue reading

The 2024 Community Service Awards winners gather before Thursday's awards ceremony at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. This year's recipients were, seated from left, Steph Ellyas and Lyn Fiveash, and standing from left, Gordon Taylor, Don Zanon, Carol Labbe and Betsy Reed Schultz. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Six honored for community service efforts

Volunteers provide energy for trails, respite care

Photo by Karen Griffiths

Cutline: A fundraiser for WAG and Open starts Today at 11 a.m. with an English and jumping fun show, followed tomorrow with a Western Games show at Kari Payne’s 4-L arena off Blue Mountain Road, 95 S. McCrorie Rd. Port Angeles.  Fox-Bell Farm owner Shelby Vaughan, and her assistants Sophie Feik and Kaia Lestage (holding Marley) will be there to host. Shown is Tatar Trots, 10. a horse Shelby got from OPEN five years ago when he was a feral, unhandled stallion and, now, after castrating and training,  he’s a docile horse who enjoys teaching kids how to ride.

 

(Rescue dog Rocky laying down if he’s shown in photo)
HORSEPLAY: Rescue program gives horses new life

SHELBY VAUGHAN WAS born into the rescue mindset. She grew up on… Continue reading

A GROWING CONCERN: For garden chores, keep the spring in your step

SO THE DREAM Playground build is going wonderfully. Thank you for those… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: Be a gracious and hospitable host

NOTICE OUR ROAD traffic is getting busier? Yep. We are beginning our… Continue reading

The Rev. Larry Schellink will present “Love God and Tie up your Camel” at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Schellink is the guest speaker at Unity in the Olympics, 2917 E. Myrtle Ave.
Weekend program scheduled for Unity in the Olympics

The Rev. Larry Schellink will present “Love God and… Continue reading

Unitarian speaker slated in Port Angeles

Phoenix Biggs will present “Singing of Honor… Continue reading

Jaiden Dokken, at Jeanette Best Gallery in Port Townsend, is Northwind Art’s new exhibits coordinator. (Northwind Art)
Poet laureate takes on new role with Northwind Art

Artist, poet and educator Jaiden Dokken is Northwind Art’s… Continue reading

Author John Vaillant stands in front of the iconic tower at Port Angeles City Pier. (Elijah Sussman/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Author visits Peninsula for Writer in Residence program

Vaillant awarded Shaughnessy Cohen Prize

A GROWING CONCERN: Volunteers a dream for playground

YOU, MY LOYAL readers, have been excellent the couple of times I… Continue reading

Unity in Port Townsend planning for Sunday services

Joanna Gabriel will present the lesson at 11 a.m.… Continue reading