Vegetable, Fruit Fallout From Rains

June 18, 2015 - It’s becoming more and more obvious that the deluge of rains we received just weeks ago and now this drenching from tropical storm Bill has negatively affected local gardens and orchards. The excessive moisture has caused a number of problems.

The most common “too much water” related problem I’ve heard of in the vegetable gardens is fruit simply rotting away. The water-logged soils have caused a number of vegetable diseases to run rampant. While there are a few products on the market to control fungus in the vegetable garden, extremely infected plants should be pulled up and discarded so that it won’t infect other plants.

In some extreme gardening examples, the prized topsoil has simply been washed away and deposited on the nearby lawn, ditch, or roadway.

Fruit trees have shown effects in two ways: reduced fruiting and death. If a fruit tree experiences a significant rainfall event over the course of its blooming, many of those blooms simply do not get pollinated. I once spoke to a commercial peach grower from Tyler that was lamenting the loss of his entire peach crop.

He and I had the conversation in early April about his projected loss, long before any fruit would be ready for harvest. He explained that the peak week of blooms on his varieties of peaches never has a sunny day for the pollinators to do their best work. Indeed later that year, his otherwise healthy looking peach orchard had very few fruit to harvest.
Others from around Shelby County have been calling me over the past couple of weeks complaining about how their fruit trees (peaches, plums and a pear tree specifically) have simply died.

Now we all know that most every fruit tree needs well drained soil. But if you have the kind of weather that we’ve had, you take away the opportunity for those tree’s roots to breath! Indeed, roots need air to survive. The only exception that I can think of is Mayhaws, which as we all know, do exceedingly well in the sloughs and soggy, bottomland soils.
If your peach tree up and died this spring, I’m betting it suffered from a water-logged soil. While much of the topsoil is good to very good around the county, we do have clay subsoil.

While that has been described by some as a good trait (holding water nearer the root zone), there can clearly be too much water held above it.