Sunday, April 19, 2020

A great day to be outside

The little flags are masking tape labels identifying the cultivar grafted

I grafted a few quince today.

I outsmarted myself. It turns out that many of the cultivars in Quince-dom are the same clone as proven by DNA testing. Proof that success has a thousand fathers and failure is your's alone. Some of the big "stories" were either pure balderdash or cases of mistaken identity.

For instance, "Portugal" is a very fine quince cultivar. And so is "Gamboa" and "Champion" and "Bereczki" and "Van Demen" and "Earl Bruck" and "Smyrna". The DNA suggests they are all identically the same even though they "originated" in half a dozen different countries.

So I grafted a couple of Bereczky and a couple of Champion. If you were reading carefully, you will have noticed that the spelling of Bere... morphed. Stuff like that happens.

For the record, I grafted what I believe to be Tencara Pink, Limon, Bereczky/Portugal, Ekmek.

Rookie mistake

The image is from THIS DOCUMENT

I failed to notice the two scales. Celsius on the right side of the vertical axis and Fahrenheit on the left side. All of the cultivars I grafted crap-out between -4 F and -22 F. That is a very big range. Selections that puke at -5F just are not going to be worth the effort. Selections that puke at -20F will be fine.

Half of the winters here will see a minimum below -15F and the other half will have a minimum somewhere between -5F and -10F.

There is a fruit grower in Alberta, Canada named Bernie Nikolai who points out that just a few feet in elevation can make a HUGE difference in minimum temperature. Cold air is dense and puddles up in low places and hollows.

Yet there is another factor that can have a very significant affect on fruit tree hardiness in winter, especially borderline hardy varieties, namely ‘MINOR CHANGES IN ELEVATION”.  These tiny changes in elevation in our orchards, and I’m talking here of only 2-8 feet, can very significantly affect a marginal trees likelihood of survival in a test winter.
One (Russian) article in particular got my attention.  It claimed there can be as much as a 10 degree Celsius difference in temperature in only about 8 feet on a very cold, still night!  In other words, it can be –43C outside in one part of the orchard, and only 8 ft. away it’s only –33C or –35C.

On the surface this seems utterly impossible, yet I tested it myself, and I believe it to be true!  However, the trick is to realize these are “vertical feet” not “horizontal feet”.  So on the coldest, ice fog night in a test winter it could be –43C right on the surface of the snow, the very coldest area.   Yet only 8 ft. straight up in the branches it’s a relatively balmy –35C. (14 degrees Fahrenheit difference)
Few of us will probably be in a position where we are trying to grow apples where the temperatures drop below -40, but it is nice to know a few tricks. Whether you are trying to grow avocados and olives where it drops to 10F or quince where it drops to -15F, the envelop can be moved if you know where to put the pry-bar.

I guess I will be looking for high places to plant these quince bushes/trees

PS: Painting trunks and branches white not only reduces sunscald but also reduces the radiant heat loss because it lowers the emmissivity. So white paint (or wrapping with paper) reduces temperature excursions in both directions. Let me repeat, the twigs and buds do not get as cold at night when they are painted white.

An early crop of Golden Shallots

The Garlic patch

They don't jump out at you but there are rows of garlic plants among those weeds. The garlic will outgrow the dead-nettles and other "ground clutter" so I don't bother weeding.

Early apricots are blooming

This tree has two varieties grafted on it. The selection on the left is a slightly later bloomer than the one on the right side of the tree. White Pine in the background. Purple osier willow on the right, near background.

1 comment:

  1. Oh how I remember those 0-dark thirty phone calls because my customer did not have heat. Winter heating oil waxes up starting at minus 35 C and Propane liquefies at about minus 47 C. Nothing like a charcoal filled pan cooking away under a propane tank or heating oil tank. This was in the Standard - Gleichen Alberta area, many years ago. Damn cold that was. You have to be tough to live on the Prairies.


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