The weather in March has remained incredibly wet, even by Oregon standards – nearly another 7 inches more this month. After the ridiculously wet winter we’ve had, it’s hard to believe that the relentless, pounding rain just won’t let up.
Needless to say, this has caused us considerable headache in trying to get our orchard planted. We elected to heel in the trees, outdoors, in sawdust. The advantages were obvious: saving on cold storage and hauling costs, proximity to the orchard (right next door), to facilitate ease of planting, time and headache. However, we naively assumed that we would have a break in the weather sometime in February or March sufficiently long to dry out the wet ground and allow us to plant.
It didn’t happen. The rain kept coming in copious amounts. The rain didn’t stop the weather from gradually warming up and, of course, the days (and the sunlight) have grown longer. Together these pushed some of our trees out of dormancy and woke them up. The last place we wanted to trees to be when they broke dormancy was still in the sawdust…
So, as we watched and hoped for some dry weather, and as more of our cider tree species decided it was time to start growing again, we were forced with a choice: plant in wet conditions (which most fruit tree specialists will tell you is a bad idea) or wait and risk the trees leafing out even more (and suffering more transplant shock in due course).
We finally threw in the towel and started to plant around March 20. We’d plant for a day, then wait a day or two more for the next bout of rain to stop…but the ground was definitely WET. The job was complete by the end of March. Hoping that the wet planting conditions are not going to set our trees back too much this first season in the orchard.