Help! Why didn't my fruit trees bloom this year???

staceyneilMay 31, 2011

Well I am thoroughly mystified and hoping someone can help shed some light on this.

I have 5 fruit trees planted 3 years ago: 3 apples and 2 pears. Last year, I got great blooms from all but one pear (a cheapo plant I bought to be the pollinator for my "good" pear.) I let the most mature apple tree make me about 8 apples last year.

This spring, the only thing that flowered was the cheapo pear.... about 3 weeks ago. I have been waiting and watching and the other 4 trees have NO sign of flower buds and are pretty well leafed out. Last year they all bloomed with my crabapples; the crabapples are past bloom now but still no flowers on the fruit trees.

What happened?????

Clues?

-In February/march when I pruned, I brought some pruned branches inside to force and THOSE bloomed for me.

-I sprayed with Bonide (organic) dormant oil before bud break in early April.

-We have had a cool/rainy spring.

-I sprayed with organic copper fungicide before 1/2" green, and with sulfur after that. Just 3x so far.

-Varieties are:

Bartlett pear (was already 2-3 yrs old when planted spring '09; flowered well '09, '10, no fruit.)

Honeycrisp Apple (was already 2-3 yrs old when planted spring '09, flowered well '09, '10, a few apples last year.)

2x Liberty Apple (planted as 1 yr olds spring '09. Flowers, no fruit '10.)

Kieffer Pear- cheapo from Home Depot, bought as pollinator for Bartlett. Did NOT flower last year, but flowered well this year. The only one that flowered. I cannot remember if I sprayed that one with dormant oil or not.

Is it possible that the dormant oil spray made them not flower? Can anyone think why else this might have happened?

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

stacey:

Your trees are very young, that could be part of the equation. But pome fruit that bloom one year and not the next are usually due to over bearing the year before. So next time you get a crop thin heavily and early.

Nothing you did this spring had any effect.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 11:43AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Since the ones you brought inside did bloom, are you sure you didn't miss the bloom or it froze? Dormant oil wouldn't cause this. And I don't think the other sprays would either. I think you'd see other damage first.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 11:47AM
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staceyneil

Thanks, fruitnut. I am relieved it wasn't the dormant oil spray. But, yeah... mystery, huh? if the pruned branches I brought in hadn't bloomed, I'd think it was your first idea. But they did. And I don't think I missed the bloom, because I was watching the bud stages VERY closely so I'd know when to stop applying copper and switch to sulfur. I get the Co-Op Extension's apple growers newsletter and all the commercial growers here were freaking out about scab because of the weather, so I was trying to be all vigilant and apply my organic fungicides at the correct time. So I was closely monitoring the buds, which broke, formed leaves, and then the leaves just grew. No flower buds, no blossoms. And I think it's just too late now... as I said the crabapples have finished and these fruit trees have large leaves now, and still no flower buds.

Argh- what happened???

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 12:00PM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

>In February/march when I pruned, I brought some pruned branches inside to
>force and THOSE bloomed for me.

How much did you prune? Is it possible you cut off all the branches that would have flowered?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 12:22PM
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ltilton

IF you were monitoring the buds, did you identify flower buds? If so, did something happen to them? Did they die, shrivel up, fall off?

The thing is, your trees were already making flower buds - or not - last fall.

I'm thinking that alexander may have the answer.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 12:37PM
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staceyneil

Well, I didn't prune the two older ones (Bartlett Pear and Honeycrisp) any more than I did last year, which is to say, lightly-to-moderately pruned and they flowered fine last year... and I BARELY pruned the two younger apple trees, since they did not have much growth to begin with.... I just can't imagine how I would have pruned off every single branch with flowering capability on 4 different trees, unless I really pruned them super heavily, which I didn't.

The Honeycrisp apple got the most pruning this year, but I followed various tutorials and felt I was actually probably not taking enough off. But I am new to this so I guess I could be wrong! In any case, the other 3 only got very lightly pruned.

And, no, no flower buds ever showed up at all.

I have to get my yard ready for a delivery of 10 tons of gravel thats on its way, but I'll try to take some photos later on so you can see how much I pruned.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 1:09PM
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ltilton

If the branches you forced bloomed, they had flower buds when you pruned them.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 2:45PM
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staceyneil

Thanks, yes I realize that. That's why I mentioned it as a possible clue. It rules out a lot of things that may have caused the lack of bloom.

I still can't imagine that I managed to prune off every single other latent bud from four trees, though. In fact it's just not possible. The branches I removed (that flowered indoors) had flowers all along them, and I left plenty of identical intact branches that should have been the same.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 5:28PM
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