How much cold can fruit take on the tree?

marknmtOctober 6, 2009

We're in the first day or so of a predicted cold snap. This morning it dropped to 21 F briefly and was well below freezing for several hours. We're supposed to see the middle teens this week.

Just how low can my apples and pears take? Should I harvest them now, a little prematurely, or can I give them another week?



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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

It depends for how long.
I usually don't worry too much when temp. is around minus 5 or 7 degree. Celsius for one night..Edmonton International airport had minus 10 C, 14 F,
I'm about 20 min. away and still had apples on. When I see a longer cold snap over several more day's coming I will pick them,
this year the cold came and seems to stay, had no choice then to pick them. At the orchard I found the apples were OK on higher elevation
but in lower part some apples did freeze. Wasn't a problem because I juiced them right away. The pears could take this cold too.
High sugar levels helps allot, this year with our drought it pushed it way up.


    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 10:44PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

I wish I knew, Mark. I'm seeing the same cold weather coming you are. Had 28 this morning, but that was under the canopy of the windbreak. I've always had the impression that our McIntosh apples taste better if not picked until after we've had some frost, but I would think if it got down into the teens the apples would get frozen and wouldn't keep. Will probably pick in the next couple days (as soon as I'm home in daylight) since the next cold wave is supposed to get us down to the mid to low teens.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 2:31AM
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Good morning, and thank you both.

I went ahead and picked them. The Liberties were close enough, Carousel and Prairie Spy just about right, but the Yellow Delicious and Rhode Island Greening could have stayed on longer.

But- I only had the one, count it, one, Greening! It's not supposed to be doable in Montana, but I grafted a scion on two or three years ago. It's a beautiful apple, just not fully ripe yet (click link for picture). Had maybe three dozen YD, a dozen or so Carousel and Prairie Spy. Galas went earlier. And about three apple boxes full of Liberties.

Also, I'll be gone next week to work in Bozeman, so I thought I'd better be getting things done.

Thanks again, and good luck with your weather.


Here is a link that might be useful: Rode Island Greening photo

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 6:05AM
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alan haigh

How much cold depends on the variety and season. High brix- dense flesh apples can take a lot of cold before mushing out (like Goldrush), but I'm surprised the quality of your apples wasn't damaged by 21 d. F. I pick mine before weather gets below about 28. Maybe apples in drier climates can take more cold because they have less water in individual cells.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 9:39AM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

I gave in also and picked my McIntosh tonight after work. It started snowing as I got home, so it was interesting having snow go down my neck as I was picking the apples using a flashlight. I just didn't want to chance losing everything. But, the tree was loaded this year so I got 4 boxes put in the cool room and probably have another box or two on the tree, which I will leave a bit longer--although the forecast says we won't get above freezing on Friday or Sat. and lows will be near the single digits, so I guess I'll find out what the ones left can take since I doubt I will be able to get them before the weekend.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 1:34AM
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Beeone, it's been a week from hell! If Mother Nature isn't calling yer hand then it's something else- for me, our furnace decided to act up. Nothing major, but it does require a visit from the tech, and missing sleep putting all the pieces together. So it goes, and while it's going it seems to taking our refrigerator with it ... but I'm not whiiiining ... :-)

Good luck with your Macs. I think our Liberties are very similar (well, for a long time I thought Liberty was a variety of MacIntosh) and they can be a real treat. I also got about four boxes (worth keeping anyway) and have most of them in a second refrigerator. I'll make a few pies and contribute the balance to the cider pressing that seems to materialize every year about this time.

H-Man, I think I must have been very lucky, but my apples seem to have been unaffected by the cold snap. And perhaps I should note that the official low was 23 F, not 21, but still cold. I spent the better part of this afternoon and much of yesterday sorting them, and even served a couple to my wife, and there isn't any sign of degradation, at least yet. I'm surprised by this because my trees are all in our lawn, and my wife is a pretty thorough irrigator- no blade left unwatered. (But aside from an occassional drowned apricot or plum it seems to work pretty well.)

It's supposed to get down into single digits F tonight, so I even lifted my leeks. We might get a nice warm spell in a week or so, but for now, Summer's over.

Best to all,


    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 7:50PM
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alan haigh

I don't really know that much about exactly what temp turns what varieties to mush. Never studied it because where I am the varieties I grow always seem to have enough season to ripen. I've just been quite surprised by Goldrush's unusual ability to hold texture deep into fall here. I wonder if there isn't some data about this somewhere.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 8:17PM
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