Fruit Tree Buds: Guest post by Terri Valenti

Terri Valenti heads the GIEI program for Montgomery County Master Gardeners, and grows a variety of edibles, including lots of fruit, in her home garden. She’ll be writing a series of posts on fruit care this year.

Assuming your soil is not too wet, at this time of year you can walk around the fruit trees to check what is happening while pruning.  Buds may be dormant but this is going to change quickly!

As of a few days ago all of the buds on my trees were tightly closed.  This is a great time to spray any trees that require dormant oil sprays.  I spray the apples, peaches, plums, cherries, pears, and apricots.  All the berries, pawpaws, persimmons, figs, pomegranate, and hazelnuts don’t need it.
A few things I observed:
My pawpaws are full of flower buds.  The flower buds are plump and round, while the leaf buds are longer and more slender.  Assuming everything goes well there could be another large pawpaw crop this year.  Flower buds are generally the rounder plumper ones on other types of fruit trees but often they are less obvious than on pawpaws.
Two of my four hazelnuts grew male flowers on them for the first time last fall.  Will the other buds become female flowers this year?  The next question is, does my site have enough wind to pollinate the flowers – since hazelnuts are wind-pollinated?  If I can control the squirrels even a meager hazelnut crop would be fun!

The University of Maine Extension has some pictures of other fruit tree buds that can help determine where the flowering buds are.  But even after looking at the pictures several times then comparing to some of my trees – I am still wondering.  Time will tell….

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