Nursery Notes: Weather affects ripening, sugar content

Web Lead

Ahhh, late August. I finally had a chance to go fishing and so I took the morning off and went. It had been quite cool in the nursery this morning but there was two degrees of frost on the mountaintop. Although the forecast is for some nice warm days, it really has been a cool year overall.

Fruit production benefits from warm days and cool nights. During the daytime, photosynthesis takes place and plants build up sugars that are stored in the fruit. At night, respiration takes place and the sugars are burned off. As in the case of strawberries from California, the fruit is large but the net sugar build up is limited because warm nighttime temperatures ensure the respiration process burns off a lot of the sugar.

Where nighttime temperatures are cooler, there is a larger net build up of sugar in the fruit. That is one of the reasons our valley produces such nice tasting fruit.

Overall plant nutrition derived largely from the soil plays a part in the flavour as well as the plants’ genetics.

I keep hearing people discuss how much later we are this year with a variety of crops. Some of the produce seems a few days later than normal while other items seem weeks behind. These must be the really heat sensitive items like peaches, for instance.

In the nursery I am finding a number of flowering items like the butterfly bushes and the dark night bluebeard are just now starting to flower. A lot of the plants look really good for this time of year. There is the odd leaf with powdery mildew, which seems to really have affected the Crimson King maples this year. Other folks stop in enquiring after leaves of the Drummond maple, which show a bit of brown edge (the leaf margin) when dried out. The main thing you can do for these or any other newly established ornamental trees and shrubs is to give them a good deep watering every once in a while to ensure they don’t go into fall stressed out from the summer. Hope you are all enjoying the summer!

Evan and Wendy Davies own Beltane Nursery at 2915 Highway 3 in Erickson.