Cold Snap Hit East During Harvest
Temperatures in the East and Midwest hit the mid-to-low-20s over the weekend, as snow was seen in some areas as well.
“I had 26°F (Sunday) night. I know some Pennsylvania growers reported colder temperatures,” says Win Cowgill, professor and area fruit agent with Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station in New Brunswick. “We’re not sure if there are any long-term effects on apples right now. I had one grower at 21°F or 22°F on Asian pears. I expect damage there.”
In his latest Extension bulletin, Cowgill says apples will begin to freeze at 28°F and the fruit will sustain cell death and damage once temperatures dip below 22°F or 23°F.
“At about 22° F, fruit cell death and damage occurs causing internal browning and breakdown soon after thawing,” he says. “Before you begin harvest after these cold temperatures the fruit must be completely thawed out on the tree or the fruit will bruise. Frozen fruit will have a shorter storage life.”
Mary Concklin, visiting associate Extension educator in fruit production and IPM from the University of Connecticut, says grower need to keep an eye on fruit picked after a freeze in short-term storage for early breakdown. She also says fruit harvested after a freeze shouldn’t be sent to controlled atmosphere or long-term storage.
“Make sure all fruit that has been picked has been moved out of the field and into the cooler or at least into an area where it will be protected from the cold,” she says. “Fruit that has frozen in the bins/boxes/crates should not be moved until the fruit has thawed completely – again, just the act of moving the containers will bruise the fruit.”