This year I have received several calls wondering why certain trees and vines produced little or no fruit this year. It is a fair question — what would cause this problem? Assuming there really was no fruit or the fruit failed to develop properly (rather than a disease issue) the answer points to pollination. Will all the rain and cool temperatures we had this spring, conditions were poor for pollination in some crops in some locations. Some crops that I have seen with poor or no crop this year are pears, peaches, pecans, and muscadines. I’m sure there are plenty of others as well. Rain and cool weather deters pollinators from visiting open flowers. Rain also dampens the pollen itself and makes it so that it cannot readily be dispersed. Timing is the critical thing, as one cultivar may have a full crop and another nothing. It could even vary from plant to plant of the same cultivar, and also from field to field (i.e. a neighbor might have a good crop whereas you have little or nothing). So the interaction of rain and flower opening is where things can go wrong. Of course other things can reduce pollination (lack of pollinator insects, lack of pollinizer trees, disease, frost, drought, excess heat and humidity, etc.) but this year I put my money behind the wet and cool conditions.
It is not just trees that had a hard time this year.
Some cultivars were impacted but were able to set some fruit, although it will not be a full harvest by any means.
Is there an upside to not having much fruit this year? Well, bud fruitfulness should be increased for next year, especially in the pecan trees. So, just like the mantra of the Chicago Cubs — There’s always next year!