Is this really the warm desert????

pgde(Tucson Zone 9)December 3, 2011

Well, everybody here has told me that last winter was "abnormally" cold and happens only once in a while. Unfortunately, it appears this winter will be a rerun of last years. The pictures below show my new (version 2) of frost protection for my citrus (I did lose 2 trees last year). The PVC is anchored to 1/2" rebar drove 12" into the ground with 12" above ground. It was a challenge since virtually no where is the ground level. Each tree is wrapped with clear C7 Xmas lights as well as having a 250 watt halogen work light at the tree base pointing upwards for heat (you know how much hear halogens put out!!)

Tonight's low is supposed to 33 degrees, Sunday is 32, Monday is 31, Tuesday 28, Wednesday 30, Thursday 33 (finally!!) and then above freezing for a while. Highs are projected to be 46-59 over this period. The NWS has modified the low temp forecasts 4 times today alone, and each time the modification was downwards. We have a freeze warning out starting tomorrow and a forecast of potentially mixed precip (rain and snow) with the snow sticking to the cactus.

Happy Holidays everybody!!!!


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I never protect my citrus. In the past few years it has gotten down to 26�. They develop some damage on tender growth when it gets below 28�, however mature growth is completely unaffected. Honestly, I would be too worried about lows of 28�, with the exception of the lime.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 12:02AM
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Wow I'm so surprised. Those sound like our lows here in WV.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 5:16AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Record lows in this time frame in Tucson are in the 17-23F range. It can get much colder. The all time low is 6F, yikes!! Fortunately those temperatures are rare. But you are gaining experience for the possibility that it will get really cold.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tucson climate

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 9:35AM
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pgde(Tucson Zone 9)

Hi Fruitnut:

Unfortunately, those temps are at the Tucson airport. We have a real issue with microclimates here and a big argument is going on in the weather circles as to whether the NWS readings at the airport really reflect the weather here or just the weather at the airport. I have a weather station on site and use that. It has been in place for one year, this is the second. I am plotting the lows from both years to see if I could make any predictions.

Anyway, I don't like the cold and wish we could have summer year around......

Thanks for the suggestion and have a good holiday season!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 3:51PM
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Well, pgde, you're much closer to summer year round in Tucson than in many other parts of the country.

I too, don't like the cold all that much, and last February, and again last week, were pretty scary. I thought the record lows were not likely to be repeated until last winter, when that cold snap blew the old records right out of the water throughout New and Old Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, etc...

Unfortunately, almost anything is possible with cold, which I realized when I saw that every state except Hawaii has recorded subzero temps since monitoring began!

I hope the rest of the winter is more "normal"!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 1:34PM
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Sheesh, what is normal?

I thought it was fun living there, away from winter for those snow birds! I guess the regular flying birds have to fly even further south to experience year round warmth, no?

Let's just say now it is no longer if you get frigid temps anymore that is important, since you do, but duration.
If you get 3 months of those kinds of temps, then you might as well grow citrus in pots like I and enjoy the snow while your at it with your trees by your side looking out!

By the way, very nice set-up Pgde!

I wish all you southerners the best, since when it is warm up here when it is suppose to be cold, I know it's cold somewhere where it is suppose to be warm. Does that make sense?

My highs will be in the 50's and possibly 60 by Thursday and we have had the mildest late fall and winter on record yet. Hey at this rate, maybe I will be able to finally keep mine outside all year:-)

Now I have a true real question for all of you down south. HOW IN THE HECK DO YOU STAY WARM INDOORS? Do you have oil heat, furnaces, gas heat, heat ducks, heating blankets or wood stoves? I never imagined having to stay warm inside like we do down there.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 7:43PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Still in the 80's here during the day in central Florida and so far much warmer here than last year. Last couple of years we have had temps to the upper 20's for a few hours a couple days during the winter......just enough to be a pain. Far as how we stay warm most people have a heatpump it heats the house in the winter and provides air conditioning in the summer.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 9:10PM
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I'm "down south" here in NM, but in a part of the state with cold winters, obviously. Sunny days still make the season pleasant most of the time, and allow for passive solar heating.

There are literally thousands of homes in my subdivision that take advantage of solar heat with large south-facing windows, slab construction, and good insulation. You also see a lot of sun rooms, attached greenhouses, etc... All of this allows us to have only minimal backup heat, for which many people use a wood or pellet stove and electric baseboard and/or space heaters. Some folks, particularly those with limited passive solar features, rely on gas and propane for heat.

For a while I lived in a small, well built home that was carefully designed with solar heating in mind. It had only a small propane heater in one corner, which used less than $100 worth of fuel each winter for backup heat. Pretty awesome!

When it gets miserably cold I always appreciate that its at least a sunny climate.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 12:20PM
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pgde(Tucson Zone 9)

Well, it is definately colder this year. The below graph shows it. The data are from my weather station in the midst of my citrus. The graph looks complex, but the top two lines are the highs and the bottom two are lows. Here is the color code:

Orange: 2010 Highs
Light Blue: 2011 Highs
Green: 2010 Lows
Red: 2011 Lows.

The lows for the next 7 days are predicted to be between 37-41 and highs 50-60.

Happy Holidays!


    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 4:53PM
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Many years ago out library had a book with a picture of a Valencia growing in Tucson, and it was covered with snow
(and oranges) The tree and fruit were unharmed.

I do not take freeze precautions unless expected temps will be less than 25 deg F.

I do not feed my trees after June so they will stop growing and will harden off.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 10:18PM
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