Backyard Orchard News
According to work by Dr. Ted DeJong in the Plant Sciences Department at UC Davis, the first 30 days after bloom can tell a grower quite a bit about 1) the sizing potential for a stone fruit crop and 2) the time to harvest. See back ground info and predictive model at: http://fruitsandnuts.ucdavis.edu/Weather_Services/Harvest_Prediction__About_Growing_Degree_Hours/.
It has been just over a month since full bloom. So, what can we learn from the first 30 days of the 2011 prune crop?
Given a 50% bloom date of March 28, 7000-7600 growing degree hours (GDH) accumulated in much of the Sacramento Valley (Colusa, Nicolaus, Durham) in the 30 days that followed. So, the model (available free on line at: http://harvest.ucanr.org/) predicts harvest between Aug 29 and Sept 1 in 2011. Since the model is always long when applied to dried plums, I’m predicting a harvest date of Aug 18-21 for Sutter/Yuba region. That is when I predict prunes in an orchard with a good crop – say 3 dry ton per acre -- will reach 3-4 pounds pressure. DON”T take that to the bank, but I suspect it will be pretty close. What do you think? Send me a comment (see below), please.
Now for the bad new-- fruit sizing potential for an orchard with a "normal" cropload could be less this year compared to the same sized crop in the same orchard in the last few years. Why? The heat unit accumulation in the first 30 days after bloom also helps give growers an indication of the relative sizing potential of a given crop. A relatively high GDH 30 (accumulated GDH in 30 days after 50% bloom) means a smaller sizing potential. A smallish GDH 30 means a better sizing potential. In the past decade, GDH 30 has ranged from 5000-9000. In 2004 it was almost 9000. In 2006, a great year for sizing, it was around 5000. This year, at 7000-7600 GDH 30, we fall in the warmer side of the range. This suggests that the sizing potential of the crop will be less this year compared to the last few years. What does this mean to a grower? Count fruit/tree in a block as soon as reference date arrives – maybe as early as pit hardening. If you have to thin, thin hard and early.
A post on cropload evaluation post by Bill Krueger follows this one.
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Any parent knows that the health benefits and nutritional value of fruit alone is not satisfying enough to convince children to eat fruit, but sometimes parenting can be more effective with creative alternatives. Health and nutrition should be a serious matter, but who said you couldn't have some fun with it? Embrace your artistic side and maximize the use of your kitchen utensils with this fun tip on how to make fruit fun, and more importantly, get your children involved in the preparation process!
Things You'll Need
assorted cookie cutters
1. Cut larger fruit into slices no more than 1" thick. For smaller fruit like strawberries and grapes, leave whole or cut in half.
2. Use cookie cutters to cut the fruit into fun shapes.
3. Arrange the fruit on a kabob and enjoy!
Is there such a thing as healthy chocolate? More and more health researchers agree that there are health benefits of dark chocolate - among them are cell-protecting antioxidants, servings of vital vitamins and minerals, and benefits to the heart. Especially when paired with a highly nutritious fruit rich in fiber and various vitamins such as strawberries, who could disagree that dark chocolate is a healthy indulgence? Enjoy this recipe for a sinfully delicious (yet healthy!) snack.
Dark Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
Ingredients and Utensils
8.5 oz bag of dark chocolate
1 quart of strawberries
baking pain covered with wax paper
1. Prepare a baking pan with a sheet of waxed paper for the chocolate dipped berries to harden on. Wash strawberries, keeping their stems intact, and let dry thoroughly.
2. Heat chocolate in the double boiler on medium heat, and stir consistently until melted. Remove from heat.
3. Quickly dip the strawberries in the chocolate, place on the baking pan, and let stand until hardened.
*Don't have a double boiler? An easy alternative is to place a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water!
Most consumers purchase precut fruit as a convenient method of including healthy options in their diet. While precut fruit is certainly more wholesome but equally as convenient as opening a bag of chips, they are not as healthy as they are when enjoyed freshly cut at home because the nutrients of precut fruit are not entirely preserved. Some fruits are challenging and seem time-consuming to prepare, making precut fruit more attractive even at much more expensive prices. Among these intimidating and seemingly impossible fruits to cut is pineapple. What most people don’t know is that a pineapple can be freshly cut in 4 simple steps!
Lay the pineapple on its side, and with a sharp knife, cut off the top and the bottom, removing enough so that none of the brown, fibrous skin remains.
Stand the pineapple upright. Position your knife to cut away the rough skin from top-to-bottom, making sure to include any brown spots. Continue to work around the whole fruit.
Place your pineapple in the upright position, and slice it in half lengthwise. Cut each pineapple in half lengthwise. Stand each piece upright and cut straight down the center to remove the core.
Now the pineapple is ready to slice into any shape or size! A whole pineapple will serve a generous 5-6 cups of whole fruit!