The past 4 hours made me wonder why I paid a bomb to Farmside for their satellite broadband service in return for getting high blood pressure watching my connection dropping off every 1 minute upon re-connection for 240 minutes straight. It makes me think of mental phenology, the way my emotional state of mind transcended from zen-like to god’s-wrath to total surrender.

The 2011/12 season is picking up signaled with our spraying tractor being mobilized, the bee-man coming in with hives, and beautiful flowers start blossoming. Oh glorious flowers, each with a dollar sign imprinted on it that decides if we get to bring home the bread for our families. Spring frost, on the very first spring night, and the following night, and maybe tonight, shudders at the thought of our apricots and nectarines blossoms.

Grant and I have been studying the spray program that Earnscy put together for us. Timing is key, so I have decided to research on the phenological development stages of our summerfruit trees and identify the key timing stages. From this research, I will develop a spray calendar for dummies (dummies = me), so that we can stay on top of this whole spray thing. If you have seen the chart from Fruitfed, you will get what I mean, that’s where I draw the inspiration from.

  1. Dormant – that’s when the tree is hibernating. Control of bacterial blast ends from previous season.
  2. Swollen Bud (August) – I’ve decided to use this term instead of bud movement from my first hand experience to want to put on copper and oil as well as leaf curl spray just because the buds have moved a wee bit. In a swollen bud stage, the flower bud would have to swell to a point where the scales are separating (like big hammer on thumb swell), and according to Robert from Fruitfed, on cherries, you can feel the stickiness on the greenish end of the bud. Aphids control on peaches, nectarines and cherries.
  3. Bud Burst (August-September) – also known as popcorn, white tip (apricots and cherries) or pink tip (peaches and nectarines).  This can also be accompanied by first flowers and green tip. The brown rot and botrytis control starts from this point on until harvest. Boron now key for flower formation and pollen germination. Zinc now key for growth hormone metabolism.
  4. Full Bloom (September) – this is when more than 75% of flower buds are opened or about 25% petal fall. Scars left behind by petal falls are infection points. *imagines Aaron Kwok dancing to Para-para Sakura among the cherry trees*. Control of thrips on nectarines.
  5. Petal Fall (September) – That’s when almost 75%  petal fall. Boron for fruit setting.
  6. Shuck Fall/Fruit Set (October) – This is the point where the nutrition program goes into full swing focusing on fruit development.
  7. Hardening/Sizing (October-December) – Nutrition program NPK with strong focus on calcium for quality fruit development and cover sprays routine. Period for control of leafrollers. Monitor for aphids in October on cherries.
  8. Pre-Harvest (December – January) – This is most likely when the fruit starts maturing. Pre-harvest timing means 21 days or 3 weeks before harvest, and its definitely a good question to ask, “how would you know exactly which day to harvest?”. I don’t know but I will seek answers soon. Don’t think there’s a rocket science, but more of a guesstimate. Note to self, harvest ripeness is different from consumption ripeness. Monitor for mites as well as thrips on peaches and nectarines.
  9. Post-Harvest – More nutrition now but a different cocktail, stocking up supplies for hibernation. N, P (photosynthesis), K (water movement between cells and winter frost protection), Mg (photosynthesis), B, Zn.
  10. Leaf Fall – When leaf starts falling, scars left behind are also infection points. Control for bacterial blast at quarterly intervals starting from first sign of leaf fall till complete leaf fall.
I think that’s about it. I will make amendments as the season progress. I better hit the sack before the lake flies invade my dream!