Fruit Trees, After the Drop

…Not just the drop season, but riots.

If you have ever raised apples or pears you are well aware of the June drop, when fruit whose seeds were not fertilized drop all over the ground.

If you raise pawpaws, you learn about riots. It seems to be an annual event that occurs about when you start to wonder just when it is going to rain. Some four-legged characters got into the tops of my two pawpaws a couple of days ago and tore off a lot of fruit, taking a bite (or more) out of dozens of pawpaws before tossing them overboard. The ground was littered. What type of characters? I did not see—I only found the wreckage on the ground in the morning. I suspect raccoons—I have caught them red-pawed in the past—but I could be wrong. Do possums eat pawpaws?

A hand with well-filled pawpaws fills most of this image. The two smaller pawpaws on the right belong to a much smaller hand. Photographed July 23, 2017.

Pawpaws grow in clusters that look sort of like hands with splayed fingers. The smallest pawpaw in the photograph above probably has two seeds in it, while the biggest one will have a couple of dozen—they are big seeds. Fertilization is pretty variable, as are the seeds.

Some of last year’s pawpaw seeds with a pencil for scale. Photographed July 26, 2017.

The pawpaws have several weeks to go before they ripen. They have a very lovely and strong fruity aroma when they ripen that will call all the wildlife back in.

The other fruit that is currently bulking up has not drawn any wild attention yet, probably because it is not native: figs. Yes, I am in southeast Michigan, but the fig is a variety called Chicago Hardy. It’s pretty hardy. I planted this in Spring 2014, figuring there was very little chance we could have another awful winter after the one we had just had. I was wrong, but I had wrapped the little tree well, and it got buried under so much snow that it was well protected from the unrelenting polar vortices of the next historically awful winter.

There was a fig last year, very close to the ground, which some foolish chipmunk broke off, tasted, and tossed. Green. Yuck. This year it is loaded with fruit, which have gone from small marbles to roughly about half their full length in the last couple of weeks. No nibbles. Yet.

Much of the yard lives under the silver maple, including this fig tree. Photographed July 23, 2017.

These figs may look safely out of the reach of the chipmunks, but they are not. I have seen the chipmunk run up and down the trees, all the better to leap onto a nearby bird feeder.

Now that these fruit trees are past the drop and riot stages, it will be interesting to see how much survives to the let-the-human-have-some stage.