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The Cold Wet Winter Of 2012

Written by nickcmack   // 01/02/2013   // 0 Comments

The Cold Wet Winter Of 2012

The start of 2012 was not exceptionally wet for my area compared to recent previous years. February was almost average, delivering 503mm with most of this falling in the last 5 days of the month. March was a lot wetter than normal with 825mm, then April and most of May being about average with 46mm of rain. Then the cold wet winter started delivering 88mm of rain and single digit temperatures before the end of May – very much above and below average  respectively for my area. June was about average with 20mm, July being above average with 152mm and August about average with 8mm of rain. Meanwhile from the end of May to the middle of September there were temperatures from 7 to 9 degrees at times.

This combination of events improved my supply of after winter fruits to levels that I have not seen for a long time. Everything else remained  the same, i.e. nutrition levels, pruning (or lack of in big trees), nothing else changed. Was it the cold, was it the wet or was it the cold wet winter, I don’t know cause I’m not an expert (a spurt is a drip under pressure and x is an unknown quantity) The fruit supply seemed to be spread out so as not to clash with each other, maybe this is  mother nature’s way of providing after the cold wet winter because the freeloaders left me alone. So I’m thinking they were provided for with their bush tucker as well.

Jaboticaba was the first to start fruiting, I was able to eat straight from the tree every afternoon for 3 weeks. This has to be a record for me, as I usually only get a few days before the freeloaders move in (god bless their tiny little souls). Next was Grumichama, with some fruits as big as a 50 cent coin. Then came a crop of Loquats. They are green while growing, turning yellow as maturing and finally turning orange when ripe. Now the problem for me is that the freeloaders usually eat them as soon as they turn yellow, however I was able to pick orange coloured fruit for about a week and a half. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Somewhere in about the second half of winter the Black Shahtoot Mulberries started to ripen. These are not a problem for me as the freeloaders don’t eat them, they eat all the white ones and I consider that a fair trade as the black ones taste better to me. But what was different this year was the large amount of fruit and the long period it was spread over.

Somewhere, I think around the middle of winter I had a crop of Black Sapotes maturing. I always get some fruit off this tree, but this year there was the biggest crop with some of the largest fruit that I have ever seen on the tree.

I was able to eat some, give some away, freeze some for later use and the smaller freeloaders, like the Blue Faced Honeyeater and the Fig bird etc, feasted on the ones that hit the ground. At the end of winter I got a good crop of yellow dragon fruit. Usually I get plenty of small to medium size fruit all of good quality and the size compensated for by quantity. This year there were not many small fruit and plenty of medium to large fruit, with the largest one being 150mm long, and a large crop as well.

After the winter came a large crop of Star Apples. I always get some sort of a crop of Star Apples but never as big as this year. If there is a small crop the flying foxes eat all the high ones and leave me a few at the bottom. This year there were so many, that they could have had half the bottom ones too. But like I said earlier I think mother nature provided for them also, because they only dined at my place for a few nights then went away (I was so disappointed, I hope they did not go hungry !!!!!!).

A few of the many sapodilla fruit on Paul’s trees

Also starting to ripen after the winter was a better than normal crop of Sapodillas. I have seen good crops of Sapodillas before but never as big as this year. I was pretty excited about this as I am a Sapodilla junkie. If you think you don’t like them, try eating them before they are real soft, the flavour is not as strong. The only downside this way is that they put a coating on your choppers, but hey, a toothbrush removes it.

Last but by no means least, there was the potential for a huge crop of mangos with the leaves almost not able to be seen for flowers. The cruel side of mother nature always delivers me fog during the winter as there is a small valley beside me that always produces fog, even light fog in the middle of November this year. However, not to be outdone by the fog they flowered numerous times and all at different stages, leaving a small crop to develop. All I have to hope for now is that my theory of mother nature providing natural food for the freeloaders works again.

The only after winter fruit failure was White Sapote, but I am not sure that can be blamed on the cold or wet as they failed last year as well. I think this is my doing, but that is another story. Like I said earlier, was it the cold or the wet or the cold wet, I still don’t know. There could be two possible explanations:  1 – the cold. Some trees, if stressed before  flowering will produce more in the hope that that they can propagate themselves because while they are under stress they think the end might be near, and 2 – the wet. When a tree is flowering it accesses what nutrients and moisture are available and plans what sort of a crop it can produce.

While this is not an after winter crop like the ones mentioned above, and it did flower at the end of winter, the non astringent Persimmon variety “Fu Yu” has more than normal fruit set on it.

As this tree is deciduous the cold will probably be the cause of this. I know I grumble about the cold and living in the bottom end of the tropics, rain is a part of life, but if it means a crop of fruit like I had this spring then bring on the cold and wet again next year.

 

Non astringent Fu Yu persimmon fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos and article contributed by Paul Andrew, Mackay Branch.


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