Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Practical Science: Fruit Tree Pollination

I am a clear amateur at numerous things, and fruit tree pollination is high on my list.

Apple Blossoms

My cousin planted a few apple trees over a decade before I bought the property and due to my interest in farming, I started researching information on growing fruit.

I am learning that there is a global crisis in the lack of bees and my uncle and I often talk about whether we've seen bees on our trees. We discuss type of bees, frequency, nests, and so on.

We'll even discuss the viability of keeping bees on our property. (This is quite low on the ambition list.)

The bee problem is simply that there are far less bees today than there were in years past. Scientists are studying the decline and trying to determine simple, clear reasons why.

From the little that I read, there are no conclusive answers yet.

During my research into fruit trees, I found a self-described short course on Effective Pollination, by Richard Norton with additions by David Green.

The information suits my learning style because of the practical, succinct, and thorough scope of the document.

The messages that I retained are:
Apple trees do not generally self-pollinate.
Crab apple trees are the best pollinators.
Touching crab apple blossoms to apple blossoms is only slightly effective.
An apple blossom is only ready for pollination for a short amount of time.

My uncle and I pored over the document and we devised a scheme where I cut down flowering branches from his large crab apple trees and plant them in buckets of water near my apple trees.

I did this last weekend next to my large apple tree.

Then I worry.

'Will the bees jump from the crab apple blossoms to the apple blossoms? Will the wind be too strong? Will the rain stop the bees? Is there anything more that I can do?'

I also encourage every crab apple tree to grow on my property. In fact, I learned on the same Website that if you grow a tree from a store bought apple, you get a crab apple tree.

I routinely toss apple cores out of my house that resulted in at least two crab apple trees near my driveway.

Last year from these accidentally grown trees, I picked some of the crab apples for jelly and I laughed.

The crab apples from these trees look like my favorite, but mini, Fuji apples!

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