Cold temperatures throughout the Midwest and down into the Southeast had growers scrambling the past week to protect their tree fruit.
Jon Clements, an Extension farm advisor at the University of Massachusetts, posted a link on the Apple-Crop listserv to the Weather Underground, where co-founder Jeff Masters has a blog. Here’s how his post from last Thursday opens:
“Large portions of the Midwest shivered through a hard freeze (temperatures below 28°F ) this morning, and freezing temperatures extended as far south as Tennessee and North Carolina. Though the cold temperatures were not unusual for this time of year, they likely caused widespread damage to flowering plants fooled into blooming by last month’s unprecedented ‘Summer in March’ heat wave,” Masters wrote.
“Growers of apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums, and cherries worked during the night and early morning to minimize the damage by running large fans and propane heaters in their orchards, and some even rented helicopters in an attempts to keep temperatures a few degrees warmer.”
A Minnesota grower wrote on Apple-Crop that they got hit hard in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, with some growers losing up to 100% of their apple crops. Older trees had it particularly bad, though Honeycrisp on tall spindle are a little behind, which is good news because they hadn’t put out flowers yet.
If you’re facing cold temperatures your area, you might find the accompanying chart from Washington State University of interest.
|Bud Stage||Silver Tip||Green Tip||Half-inch Green||Tight Cluster||First Pink||Full Pink||First Bloom||Full Bloom||Post Bloom|
|Avg. temp. for 10% kill2||15||18||23||27||28||28||28||28||28|
|Avg. temp. for 90% kill2||2||10||15||21||24||25||25||25||25|
Source: Washington State University