freeze damage- don't give up

alan haighApril 9, 2012

I was just on the phone with Mike Fargione, a commercial fruit production adviser with Cornell, discussing the odds of a crop. He said the damage is not matching up with charts and flowers appear strong this year (dry weather?). While there's been some damage in the Hudson Valley, up to this point, he suggests that a normal crop is still out there- stone fruit and pomes. Still a long way to go, of course.

If I was to go by the charts, my crop should be history but cutting open peach blossoms I see no obvious damage although they were in full bloom with a freeze perhaps below 26F early Sat morning. This was the third or fourth such event in the last 2 weeks with temps much lower the first one.

I will not do fine pruning of my peaches until I feel we're actually out of the woods.

Generally I'm in a somewhat better location than most Hudson Valley growers and if Mike is not seeing devastation there I will remain optimistic here until blossoms or fruit tell me otherwise.

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That's good to hear harvestman but I'm still very doubtful that I'll have much, if any, crop. I've had 20-21 degrees at least 4 times over the last two weeks and I've been somewhere between half inch green and loose cluster with most of my trees. Many of the apples are not at loose cluster yet while the pears and Japanese plums are probably open now (I've been too depressed to even look over the last few days). At this point, I really hope that you're right but I'll be happy with whatever fruit may have survived.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 2:21PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

That is good news. So many people are losing their crop, it's nice to hear a big chunk of the Northeast is still on go.

It's interesting your actual results are better than the charts. In 2009 we had some cold Spring weather and I didn't think it got cold enough to damage blooms, but there was significant damage. Most trees did not have a full crop.

I had pretty much resigned losing my crop this year since everything bloomed about a month early. I thought if a freeze got/gets everything, I'd just work more on pruning and training new trees.

We're not out of the woods yet here in the lower Midwest, but so far no freezes. Of course hail can still take everything.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 2:40PM
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Hman that is very good news. My white nectarine was just starting to blossom. It only has one half-hearted bloom and the rest of the buds are either grayish-brown or darker. A few of the buds are showing a bit of pink or even red, but they are not strong and very wobbly. There is no sight of green on the tree. Meanwhile the apricot is in full bloom as is my peach. The frost really nabbed my nectarine. You all have to worry about crops. I cannot imagine. I hope there is no hail. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 5:32PM
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alan haigh

Mrs. G. Don't worry, most of my clients are better located for fruit than I am and even when the crop freezes out they mostly forgive me and have me do most of the things I'd do anyway. I'm glad I don't make my dollars by way of bushels of fruit.

Thanks for your concern though.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 5:50PM
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I'm seeing very little damage so far on my peaches though they were in full bloom at 25F. Plum damage has been insignificant also in full bloom at 25F. Just one Asian persimmon tree and one date plum appear affected, but the foliage loss there has been heavy and will just have to wait and see if these trees will come back. Heavy foliage loss on kiwi vines but these have already put out new shoots. Also lost about 3/4 of pawpaw blossoms but unsure how that will ultimately affect the crop.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 9:20AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Good to hear...Tonite is going to put a lot to the test, but hopefully I can get out of it with a 27F or better... I guess we really don't know until May/June how bad it was. I guess i'll mark this down as something to learn from.

This was in the local newspaper today:

"At Fruit Acres in La Crescent, Minn., general manager Ralph Yates said the combination of bluffs and air flow along the river creates "a little micro-climate here."

"That�s originally why the orchards were all planted on the bluffs," Yates explained.

After years of working with the apples, Yates sees little reason to worry about what might happen. He�s had crops appear lost to frost in the past only to develop into a fine harvest come fall.

"People tend to get all worked up and they overreact," Yates said. "It�s something we can�t do anything about, so it�s better just to wait and see.""

La Crosse Tribune

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 10:13AM
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How can you tell damage? I have J Plums and Cherries.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 12:49PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Look at the ovule of the fruit. That's the part that will be the seed and later the flesh over that. If the seed area is brown instead of a bright color, the fruit is dead. This discoloration will show up soon after the fruit thaws out. Check 10 or more fruitlets and get a percentage.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 12:57PM
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The calyces of one pear are brown, which I take as a sign that they're toast.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 1:14PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


You can't tell by looking at the outside of the fruit, at least not right away. Pinch the fruitlet in two with your finger nail. The calyx can freeze and still make a fruit. Sometimes you see frost marked fruit like that in the fall. It's the seeds that count. Kill them and the fruit is toast.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 1:22PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)


How does FRUIT handle a freeze? My apricots are dime sized (the biggest ones), while everything else being smaller (the apples are just blooming, so I think they'll be ok). I'll say tonite we see 26F to 27F... Enough damage to thin the tree, but not enough to kill everything?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 2:49PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Dime size apricot, not very well. At 26F they could be a total loss. I've seen so many frozen out it's ridiculues. In general apricot seem a bit more tender than peach and they seem to swell up sooner after bloom. Shuck split and after they are really tender and exposed. Mid March to mid April was when we usually lost them in north TX. They would be about that size up there in the last half of March.

I've only lost a few things before bloom and a few after the trees were pretty well leafed out. It's those in between several weeks about where your apricots are now.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 4:05PM
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alan haigh

Yes, the fruit itself takes cold less than blossoms. 26 would probably destroy anything at that stage although I don't know when a surprise is coming- that's why it's called a surprise.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 6:30PM
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