Temp vs. Wind chill for trees

cfox248(3)April 18, 2014

Hello all!

I have a probably stupid question. Today was nice enough to put the trees outside, all sunny. When you stand outside you can feel the sun warm you up, a good 55 degrees. The breeze is chill though, and it got me thinking.

Does the wind chill affect the trees? For us it can be 50 degrees out, but bring in wind and it's going to be cold and miserable. It can be 45 degrees and sunny and I'm out in a t shirt, but introduce a steady wind and it becomes sweatshirt weather. You see it in the forecasts too: 50 degrees, acts and feels like 40 with windchill.

Does this affect trees too? Do they get affected by windchill? There's been a few nice sunny days I haven't put them out because it's cold but now that I think about it that seems silly. Seems like the tree would just soak up the sun. we have skin to cool/warm us so of course the wind would affect us, but a tree is a tree.

So. Does the windchill have an effect at all, or is it just me humanizing my trees? Should I put them outside regardless and trust that the warm sun is enough to keep them happy, and that the wind isn't harming anything?

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garret_87(Zone 6)

Good to see you back on the forum. I was wondering how your new tree is doing - I'm planning an online order tonight or this weekend. Any update pics on your recovering meyer lemon?

Good question about the wind chill. Never thought about how that might affect trees until now. Hopefully someone else has an answer, Im not sure.

Trees aren't warm blooded so if it doesn't feel warm enough maybe it's safer to wait. I haven't started the indoor/outdoor shuffle yet but I know others have.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 4:55PM
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Lemon is doing well! There's been a significant amount of branch dieback. Over half the branches are goners, I've got a bunch I need to chop and some that are on their way out. All of the branches on the bottom of the plant and a few upper ones. It'll end up looking more like a short-trunked tree than a bush, and a very lopsided one at that.

But, the plus side. The branches that are doing well have started pushing out new growth again. There was a ton of it before I transplanted, but the rough working of the roots killed it off. It's just starting to push out more again. Hoping once it's nice enough to leave outside it'll start pushing new branches too. It's definitely in recovery, and no bugs to speak of - I check every single day for any sign of them.

I've brought the plants in for the day. I put them out when it's 50+ and not too windy, which hasn't been often recently. 17 inches of snow this last week in my home city a half hour from where I am now. I'm sick of the shuffle - I have a lot of plants! - so most days it's just the two citrus trees that go out. Orange tree is fabulous, the trip didn't phase it at all. Still a bit wobbly in the pot, so I staked it, but if you look at the trunk and the branches there's just hundreds of little green nubs waiting for the sun to start growing like crazy.

What are you planning to buy this time around? I moon over their trees knowing I really can't/shouldn't buy another one. But the Meyers at the local garden center tempt me every time I go...

Here's some pics. The first is of the beanch dieback at the main central branching area. You can see the dead brown creeping down the branches.

This one is of the new leaf tips pushing from the top of the healthiest branch.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 5:43PM
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BarbJP CA 15-16/9B

I would imagine it would have an effect on the trees as much as it does on us.

I know that borderline hardy plants here do much better over winter if they are out of the wind than those exposed to the wind. It can make the difference between surviving and not.

That's in reference to plans in the ground, but I'd imagine it would be similar to plants in pots.

Can you set them out to enjoy the sun in a wind protected spot?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 6:42PM
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Not really a place where it would get full sun. It hasn't been excessively windy here - just a bit of one that makes it feel a bit chilly outside. They still go outside and seem to like it, turning their leaves towards the sun. Just struck me as a curious question when I was bringing them out today.

At my mother's house in the cities it's windy. Atop some bluffs, so there's always wind coming through, but the tree never seemed to mind. Then again, that's midsummer when it's not possible for the wind to make it feel chilly!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 10:44PM
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Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH

wind chill only occurs when the object in question is warmer than the surrounding air or when the object in question losses moisture (internal or external) through evaporation to the surrounding cold air.

In the first example the object in question can only get as cold as the temperature of the surrounding air. It can not get colder.

In the second case, the evaporation of moisture from the plant to the air can cause the object to cool off to temperature colder if the relative humidity is less that 100%. If the dew point temperature is below freezing the tree could cool down close to the dew point temp and kill the tree.

Take care that the dew point is above freezing and you will be OK.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 11:18PM
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Okay, I think I see where my confusion stems from. Looked a bit into how wind behaves on the human body. What I was thinking was if the temperature is, say, 30 degrees, but the windchill is 8 degrees, than when you go outside your body feels 8 degrees and will lower to such temps. What REALLY goes on is that your body loses heat as fast as it would if it was 8 degrees - but it will never drop below 30. I was thinking for some reason that animals and humans were affected differently than objects, but it looks like all the wind does is speed up the heat loss, not actually reduce the temperature of the body. (thanks, poster above me! Made me go wait what? And google it. Could have gotten away with not posting the question at all!)

It looks like the only thing windchill does to plants is speed up the moisture loss, but I didn't find anything that said it could get it colder if the humidity was low - everything I'm looking at says it will just cool it down to the air temperature, never below, that the wind will just speed up the process - but then, I didn't look overly hard, either. I don't suppose you've got a source explaining how the dew point can drop it below air temp? I'd like to read into it! The more I know the better I can not kill my plants.

Either way it leaves me feeling a bit better about putting my plants out when it's breezy!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 8:10PM
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garret_87(Zone 6)

Thanks, I learned something :-)

Your Meyer looks naked but don't fret, with tlc it should make a full recovery. Remember mine looked just as bad and it is thriving and fruiting today. Attaching some pics to give you hope!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 8:37PM
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garret_87(Zone 6)

Posting from my iphone so let me know if the pictures are messed up. The frog and mushroom in the soil are water spikes I use when I leave for a weekend.

Here is another pic of mother meyer and her cutting baby. I will be taking a few more cuttings this year to raise and give away.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 8:42PM
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Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH

go outside when it is 98.6 degrees air temperature with a dew point less than that. Put some water on your arm. As the water evaporates your arm feel cooler. Yes the water will evaporate as the water is pulled into the dry air. Now put your citrus tree hardy to 25 degrees in 25 degree air. If the dew point is 25 degrees, your tree will stay at 25 degrees and there will be no evaporation of water from the tree. However if the dew-point of 10 degrees your tree will perspire and cool off to a temperature below the critical 25 degrees. Your tree just died. If you enclose the tree with wet soil the moisture will increase the humidity to 100% and the tree will not perspire. Your tree lives

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 9:25PM
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garret_87(Zone 6)

Great info Steve! I heard that "Cincinnasti" had a bad winter ;-)

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 9:32PM
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garret_87(Zone 6)

Oh, I just came online on the PC and realized my photos where horizontal. I would repost, but you can click on the image and it should appear normal.

Steve, when do you expect fruit from your Sweeties? From seed is such a great experiment, I have some meyer seeds going from my own tree, but its more of just for fun.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 9:36PM
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Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH

Mr Garret

I don't know. The variety of tangerine I have is an extremely early ripening. The fruit is medium size, around 3 inches. The trees are fast growing. As long as I bring them in for winter growing I'll get about 3 time as much growth per year. At that growth rate they may flower in 2 more years at best. A lot will depend on how high the tree needs to grow to reach its node count. I have 2 of my sweetlee tangerine trees planted outside in raised beds between my house and garage. The 2 structure will hold a perfect lean-to green house 7 ft wide by 33 feet long. The other 2 will come back inside in fall. As long as I heat the roots to about 75 degrees the trees grow like weeds.

If you grow Meyer lemon trees from seed for root-stock, you can graft Meyer lemon adult scion to the root Meyers and have fruit soon. Good luck with your ML's.

As for Cincinnati It was colder than normal with only 2 years out of 130 years having more night below 0 degrees. Thanks for asking. you can see the methods I used to force high growth in my Photobucket albums. These work but are a bit time consuming.


Here is a link that might be useful: http://s1094.photobucket.com/user/wreristhechimney/library/sunshine2013?sort=4&page=1

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 10:52PM
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