22nd Jan 2020
Wintertime in the Orchard
Frosty the Snowman, Jack Frost, Old Man Winter, Ice Queen, Frozen, The Long Winter.. there is a long list of names and stories to go along with winter each year, and each has it’s own story about the cold outside. This is the time of year we are hunkering down over the worst part of the cold weather waiting for spring to break out and defy winter again, but as of yet we’re still holding on to cups of hot coffee, mugs of spiced apple cider, bowls of thick soups, and every comfort food we can think of.
There isn’t a lot we can do with the trees at this time of year, but what exactly is happening with the trees when the weather gets this cold? We tend to fuss about the harshness of icy arctic blasts, but it’s exactly what apple trees (among others) need to produce a good crop.
The Hibernation of Apple Trees
A chilling unit in agriculture is a measurement of a plant’s exposure to cold temperatures and these temperatures range anywhere from freezing point too (depending on the type of fruit) 45°F or even 60° F. For stone fruit trees and certain other plants of the temperate climate ** buds will develop in summer, start to go dormant in the autumn, then really hit hibernation when the temps dip to a certain point. Usually for this to happen the trees have to be exposed to cold weather for a long enough period of time before small spikes to warmer temperatures won’t immediately wake the trees up again.
If this chilling point doesn’t happen, (called irreversible dormancy) it delays budding, flowering and fruiting, and can even ruin a good crop for the year. This can happen even for oranges, who have a higher chilling temp, but still need the slightly cooler weather to really plump up and get the juices flowing.
When Fruit Trees Wake Up
New plant and tree life is one of the prettiest and most exciting time for orchard keepers and farmers. The sap that has started to flow in February is waking up the tree, and as the life of the tree wakes up the warmer weather pushes the buds and the leaves to start budding. Hopefully if the tree has gone through the irreversible part of dormancy (part 2) it will be set and primed to blow in the breeze with an excellent crop of fruit blossoms. If not, well, sometimes you just have to cut your losses and wait for round two.
Back to Winter
So we’re waiting this out knowing that spring will come again, and to get any kind of a crop this kind of weather is necessary. Meanwhile we’re using last years crop to make this cake.
Apple Pumpkin Bundt Cake
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 4 cups apples, cored, peeled and diced
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a medium bowl, using electric mixer, beat eggs, white sugar and brown sugar until light in color and creamy, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add oil and vanilla extract and beat for 1-2 minutes more to blend in the ingredients. Add pumpkin puree and continue beating for 1 more minute to combine.
- In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Do not over mix. Fold in the apples.
- Spray the bundt pan with baking spray. Carefully pour the batter into the bundt pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 50 or 60 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for about 40 minutes. Invert the bundt pan onto the serving platter and let the cake to cool further.
Make your favorite thin-consistency frosting and drizzle over the top before topping with pecans. Hint: you can thin a frosting with water or milk and use a plastic bag with one corner snipped for an even drizzle.