A Picture is Worth a Billion Blossoms
If you've driven by any apple orchards in the last day or two, you've probably noticed that apple bloom is well underway. Thanks to these warm temperatures, it's a little earlier than we first anticipated, but we're not complaining. The sooner we get to eat an apple fresh off the tree the better.
Not only is it an early bloom, but it is a heavy bloom. Judy Eckert described walking through the Millstadt orchard as "divine this spring." Farmers refer to a bloom of this magnitude as a "snowball bloom." Unfortunately, no matter how beautiful, the more the merrier doesn't hold true for apple orchards. Since blossoms essentially turn to fruit, there is a risk of overcropping. When there are too many apples on the tree, the size and quality of the fruit is sacrificed. This is why the farm crew will be working diligently the next couple of weeks to thin the blossoms, which will ensure successful fruit production.
What you probably haven't noticed is all the bees buzzing around the orchard. Bees are needed to successfully pollinate the apples. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn't guarantee the amount of bees required to pollinate an entire apple orchard, so we have beekeepers come in to help us. The bees are responsible for transferring pollen from one blossom to another. In order to successfully produce fruit, cross-pollination must occur between apple trees. In layman's terms, this means that a bee cannot transfer pollen from one Golden Delicious blossom to another Golden Delicious blossom, but rather must transfer it to another variety of apple tree. This is why it is an absolute necessity to plant two different varieties of apple trees in close proximity to one another.
As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but here on the farm, it's worth a billion blossoms...