Freeze after Blueberry Petal Fall

shazaam(NC 7B)April 14, 2014

Has anyone dealt with a mild freeze right after blueberry petal fall? I've read some conflicting information about the critical temperature at this stage -- NCSU says 28 degrees, but Michigan State says that damage can occur at 32 degrees. Our forecast is for 31, and I have a lot of newly set berries on both rabbiteyes and southern highbush. This is the first time since I began growing blueberries that I've had to deal with this scenario -- we're already two weeks past our average last frost date here.

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I have an unknown southern highbush that blooms very early and frost usually wipes it out. Despite our cold winter it had a nice weather window as it was blooming. Several weeks later my Brightwell was caught in 30 a degree night when the flowers were still in tight cluster stage. My later rabbiteyes all had swollen buds but not quite opening up yet. My southern highbush with small blueberries were fine as were my later rabbiteyes, but my Brightwell crop was 80 percent lost.

There are a lot of variables with critical low temp. Most say 28 degrees but if you read closely that is for 30 minutes exposure time, wind and clouds also come into effect. 2 hours at 28 degrees with light winds and clouds may be better than 2 hours at 31+ with no wind and no clouds. Also are you planted on a slope to let the cold air drain off?

I don't think there is a magic number for temp that you can go by but for me this year tight cluster was the most sensitive stage so you may be ok.... or you may not be. Hope that helped.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 6:18PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

1 Minute below 28 is fatal but as was said even 31 for an extended period of time especially with wind and formed berries is very bad. The berries will freeze splitting the cell walls and the berry is done. It will look ok for a day or two then just dry up.

This post was edited by bamboo_rabbit on Tue, Apr 15, 14 at 7:33

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 10:57PM
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