Every year in February or March, I go out with a small team to do baobab fruit monitoring. This is our 10th year! It’s is a good time of year to do this because while most of the fruit have reached their full size, they have not matured (dried out) enough and have not yet fallen off the trees. We count the number of fruit on each tree, dividing them into 3 categories namely Small, Medium and Large.
After March the fruit start to dry and then they fall off the tree and are collected by the harvesters. There appears to be a good crop of fruit this year.
I encourage the harvesters in the villages to join us during our fruit monitoring. In this way they also learn why its important to keep monitoring fruit production each year.
The information we gather gives us an indication of the expected harvest for the year, but it also alerts us to any problems that might arise that may be related to pollinators, climate or other environmental problems.
The monitoring usually takes two days and at the end of the first day we look forward to camping under one of the majestic baobab trees that we have been working with. This year we put up our camp site under Tree BP6! My friend Pete Norton drove all the way up from Cape Town to join me. From this tree we counted 11 small, 32 medium and 40 large fruit. This is quite a typical count for trees in this area.
Every year I am helped by two assistants, Samuel and Prince. Here we are standing under Tree BR1 which is a small tree that produces lots of fruit every year. This year we counted 148 fruit on this tree.