Freeze report, 28-30F last night

fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TXApril 19, 2013

Dropped to about 28-30F last night. It was a radiation freeze with strong inversion. Official station nearby said one hour below freezing and a low of 31F. The amount of damage says it was colder than that at my place. My thermometer said 30F at sunrise.

I spent nearly 3 hours covering things last night and managed to save some things.

Watermelon and sweetcorn covered fully with cardboard had no plant losses. There were just a few frozen corn leaves not well covered. The soil was warm as it was 90F two days ago.

Eureka persimmon with 3-4 inches new growth was covered with a tarp and 750 watt heater inside, no damage. I think this would have been 100% loss without protection.

Jujube with up to 12 inches lush new growth unprotected and no damage. Earlier small growth was frozen off at 25F. So I'd rate jujube as intermediate freeze tolerant.

Pecan has frozen leaves and shoots below 10ft but appears undamaged higher up.

Fig lost about 2/3 of new growth.

All unprotected apple, pear, and apricot fruits checked were frozen. But my experience says this shouldn't have been bad enough to take all the apples. So jury is out on that.

Grapes with 6-12 inches new growth and fruit clusters. 100% loss unprotected, 10-70% loss with some protection shown below. Covered with cardboard and low wattage cable heater inside.

Upper foliage and fruit frozen, lower unfrozen.

My conclusion is that to save a crop I need full coverage, ie tarp, and a good heater or passive heat source. Just covering without heat has not worked.

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I definitely agree with your conclusion about coverage, which I have also found to be the case. Sorry to hear about your losses...

Just had two record-cold nights, at 18 and 16 degrees, respectively. This certainly did in all the apricots in the vicinity, as well as many of the plums, peaches, and cherries. Fortunately mine have yet to bloom (except for apricot). I'll keep my fingers crossed, but the negative Arctic Oscillation is surely not going to help.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 2:52PM
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Tony(Zone 5. Omaha, Nebraska)


My apricot did well with the tarp and 120 v light bulb. The low temp was 24lF
Last night. Tonight it will drop to 26F. I will protect it one more night.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 3:02PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I'm thinking I need a high wattage cable heater and better coverage to save next years grapes. I'll look into the cable heater. I really don't want to go a full greenhouse, cover plus heater, for a few grapes.

Even a double poly cover doesn't give much protection. The heater ran in the greenhouse last night to keep that from freezing.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 3:23PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Wow, fruitnut, what an effort. But all in all, you ended up with not much damage. Good grief, will winter never end for our poor midwesterners? My daughter in Denver is actually sick of the snow. And that's saying a lot, as she is an avid snowboarder.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 3:45PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

I commend you on trying. I am amazed you had that much growth already on your figs and are way ahead of me.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 4:57PM
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Fruitnut, what a horrible experience. Your grapes look so strong and healthy too. The clusters were large. So sorry, Mrs. G

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 5:13PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)


You got a nice setup'll pull through. This weather sucks, but it can't last forever... The good thing is you have a big greenhouse that laughs at mother nature :)

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 5:56PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Thanks guys for your kind words. You all mean a lot to me!! But I'm OK with the freezes and hail here. Every place has their fruit growing issues. I'd rather have these issues than all the bugs, disease, rain, snow, and never ending clouds so many of you have to deal with.

I did see one interesting item that might be just the ticket for my 46ft grape trellis. They sell heating cables designed to keep rain gutters free of ice and snow. I could get a 240ft cable putting out 1200 watts. That would spread the heat out so as not to burn anything. And they last years in place in a rain gutter. Anyone use one of these?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 9:27PM
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Thats really disheartning fruitnut. If it makes any difference, we just got a foot of snow, and -10C this morning. Good thing nothing is awake...

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 6:15AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

The Great Lakes saved me once again, it didn't get down to freezing here, very close though. Mother Nature is one tough lady! FYI I would be zone 5 but because of the lakes 6a.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 7:26AM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

My friend has those cables on his roof b his entryway, and down the waterspout and it does a great job at melting the buildup. I don't know if it's get too hot but it's worth a try. You could always run it in a 1/2" pvc maybe even steel pipe to dissipate the heat. Maybe?
I woke up to 1"of snow on the grass but it's melted in the driveway. This should be it. Hope your plants recover fullly.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 7:27AM
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25 right now @ 7:42 a.m. here, I too am glad not a lot of things are awake. I like the idea of rain gutter heat tape.

I hope the damage isn't too bad Fruitnut, what an impressive set up you have!

I think Mother Nature does these things so we'll appreciate things more...

The forecast seems to indicate this is it for the cold temps but we'll see I guess...

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 8:46AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


This freeze.....was it a record cold or is this normal for you this time of year?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 8:47AM
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Sorry to hear that Fruitnut. At least the grapes only have alittle damadge and will come back. I cant even grow real grapes here from pierce disease. Is that not a problem in your neck of the woods?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 9:05AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Some type of pipe is worth considering. It could serve as part of my trellis and support system. I'd like to widen the trellis for more yield potential. But spreading it out would make it even harder to keep warm and cover. I'll have to give it more thought.


Damaging spring freezes are the norm here. We usually have bloom starting in early March and have never failed to have an April freeze in the 10 years I've been here. But it could have been colder. It's been 29F as late as May 3 and this officially was only 31F. The amount of damage says it was colder than 31.

Everyone else:

I hope you warm up soon. This very late spring should make a spring freeze up north very unlikely. But you never know, because yes, nature can be cruel.

As they say: If it was easy everyone..........

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 9:12AM
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Freeze here, too, last nite. Snow on the roofs and the standing water from the flood is frozen over. But the earliest buds aren't even at popcorn stage, so I don't expect real damage.

A while ago I said I doubted we'd see bloom here before May, and now that seems optimistic.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 9:32AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

It is 53 here in central Florida at noon.........this cold just won't go away.

I guess on the grapes overhead watering won't protect them like it does the blueberries? Those bunch grapes sure do wake up early. My Muscadines are just now breaking bud.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 11:51AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Low temps this morning...

Record low this morning is 20F and we hit 22F...very close. If we would have had snowcover, even a little, i think we would have easily beat it.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 12:40PM
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Regarding gutter heat tape. I examined a different product, an electrical cord designed to keep pipes from freezing. But those cords are stretched along the pipe in immediate contact with the pipe. And then covered to trap that heat. I had access to 2 different brands. Neither was helpful. I put the thermal sensor in ice. The LED came on. But after a 1/2 hour in a 40 degree environment, I couldn't detect any heat. They probably only heat the cord itself to a few degrees above freezing. I don't believe they could help at all.

However, maybe the gutter version is better.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 4:41PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Thanks for that report. The ones I used were similar to what you are describing, not enough heat. I looked at them in the store but they didn't give a wattage. At least the gutter cable said 1200 watts. That's about all one extension cord will handle and it sounds like enough to really help if fully covered.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 4:46PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

the Great Lakes saved me the first night, but the 2nd night my tropicals were hit. i was out of town. Fruit is OK, just the tropicals. Cacti are all fine too. The tropicals will recover.
I hope this is done now!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:50PM
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