Blossom Time!

Lyman Orchards, Middlefield, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)

THE ORCHARD is a beautiful place at any time of year, and the start of the growing season, spring bloom, is particularly spectacular.

Smaller buds surround the large king blossom at the center of a flower cluster at High Hill Orchard, Meriden, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)

AFTER LAST YEAR’S smaller-than-normal crop, the trees are rebounding nicely, and there are plenty of buds. It’s an exciting time of year for New England growers. “We’re like Red Sox fans,” one said. “We’re always optimistic in April and May.”

Bishop’s Orchards, Guilford, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)

THE CURRENT STRETCH of cooler temperatures has slowed things down a little, but until recently this year’s bloom period was as much as two weeks ahead of schedule in some locations. As it is, bloom has already peaked in much of Connecticut and Rhode Island, and Mother’s Day weekend will be ideal for viewing the flowers in most Massachusetts orchards. 

Rogers Orchards Sunnymount, Southington, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)

IN MUCH OF MAINE and northern New England, the trees are just beginning to bloom, and in a typical year growers don’t stop worrying about the threat of frost until Memorial Day. The tender apple buds and flowers can withstand temperatures in the high 20s, but a hard freeze can damage the crop before it begins.

The trees are covered with blossoms at Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield, Massachusetts. (Ben Clark)

ACCESS to orchards is limited, but the seas of flowers can be enjoyed from the road or an orchard store or farm stand at many locations. Check out our Orchard Finder for more information, including contact information and directions.

The store at Rogers Orchards Sunnymount, Southington, Connecticut, closes for the season this Sunday, May 9, and will reopen in July. (Russell Steven Powell)
The farm store at Bishop’s Orchards, Guilford, Connecticut, is open-year round. (Russell Steven Powell)
The store at Lyman Orchards, Middlefield, Connecticut, is open daily year-round. (Russell Steven Powell)
The store at Norton Bros. Fruit Farm, Cheshire, Connecticut, will open for the season in early June. (Russell Steven Powell)
The store at Blue Hills Orchard, Wallingford, Connecticut, will reopen in August. (Russell Steven Powell)
The farm store at Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield, Massachusetts, will reopen in August. (Ben Clark)
High Hill Orchard, Meriden, Connecticut, will reopen in September. (Russell Steven Powell)

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POLLINATORS, especially Italian honeybees, are essential to the apple crop. Without fertilization, no fruit can develop. Wild and domestic bees and a range of other pollinators must visit thousands of flowers during the seven to ten-day bloom period to ensure a crop.

Rogers Orchards Sunnymount, Southington, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)

TWO APPLE VARIETIES are generally needed for proper fertilization. Varieties like Cortland, the heirloom Winter Banana, or crabapples are placed strategically in orchards to facilitate pollination of the primary fruit. One hive is needed for every acre of trees. 

Norton Bros. Fruit Farm, Cheshire, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)
Blue Hills Orchard, Wallingford, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)
Bishop’s Orchards, Guilford, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)
Lyman Orchards, Middlefield, Connecticut. (Russell Steven Powell)

WATCH THIS four-minute video to learn more about pollination:

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