Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Dormancy - What's really going on

Thanksgiving has passed, the leaves have dropped, the trees are bare, and the Orchard is entering "Dormancy." 
AND... beneath the bark all sorts of things are going on, and the trees are (with chemical reactions) "counting" the days to Spring! Photo-receptors near the leaf scars are noting the ratio between dark hours and light hours (the "photo-period") that's how the tree will know exactly when Spring arrives. All the Enzyme systems that drive the leaf and flower making machinery are on "idle".  As the temperature rises the chemical "gears" will start to whir. The Hormone that signaled the leaves to drop, is now the "brake", keeping everything dormant. When the temperature is cold, the dormancy Hormone will degrade (get used up). When the right number of hours of "chill" have been accumulated (those are the "Chill Hours" on your tree label.  Check it out!,) the brake comes off. With the dormancy hormone is gone, the temperature and photo-period will be in control, so watch the Orchard for the "March Magic." (check the bottom of the email * for more detail)
The trees have been storing up water and sugars that will fuel that first big push of flowers and leaves. (Then that sap begins to flow in Spring, think "Maple Syrup.") 
Though looking very quiet and serene, the trees keep working and we've got some Orchard Activities that will have a major effect on how the trees function in the coming year, and how bountiful a harvest you'll enjoy.  By doing these activities you'll also understand a lot more about your Orchard.  Have fun!