Will anything still be alive in the morning?

scottokla(7)April 15, 2014

It's been 30 degrees for two hours already, and it is 28 already the mesonet station near the farm. It's not looking good. We will probably bottom out at about 24 at the farm and 28 at the house.

We will see what happens to the blueberry crop and the pecan crop. Statewide the pecan crop will probably be cut in half (best case if mine are typical). Not sure what will happen to my blueberries. In the Easter 2007 freeze they were still non-bearing for the most part.

Not caring much about the veggies right now; not a lot invested compared to the other things.

I hope you heat islanders in OKC and Tulsa have some things pull through. I feel bad for the Porter peach orchards.

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

We'll still be alive in the morning, Scott. Well, at least I imagine we will be.

I'm sorry you're going to lose so much of the pecan crop this year after all you've invested in them year in and year out. How far along are your blueberries?

We already lost the stone fruit here, and now it looks like we'll lose the pecans. Oh well, one fig tree in a container is in the greenhouse and so is an orange tree in bloom, so I have hope for them. The strawberries are under heavy-duty row cover so they should be fine. I'm not so sure about the blackberries, which started blooming a couple of days ago. You cannot really put floating row cover over the blackberries because they'll shred it.

I feel bad for the Porter peach orchards too. There's been too many bad stone fruit years in a row lately.

Our weather is so bizarre. Our local TV met said Ardmore likely would go to 26 degrees and set a new record, breaking the old record from 1928, and he's usually right on stuff like that. Well, they are at 35 degrees right now and I cannot imagine they'll drop 9 more degrees before sunrise? We're at 31, with a forecast low of 30. I imagine we might drop to 27 or 28, and hopefully not any lower than that (for the sake of the poor little hummingbirds).

These recurring late cold spells after too many warm and even hot days in April (and even in May most years) are getting so old. They're making our "average last frost dates" even more irrelevant than they already were.

Did you have to remind us of the Easter freeze of 2007? That was such a terrible month. It seemed like it just wouldn't warm up....and then we had all the endless flooding later on in about May and June. At least we had rain that year.

My veggies are under row covers and I expect they'll be fine. I've used row covers since 2008, largely because of 2007. I had some row cover back then, and I used it, but since then I have acquired more row cover and heavier row cover.

I stayed up to watch the lunar eclipse and to watch the weather and I've been pleased to see our temperatures down here have fallen slightly more slowly than I expected. Still, you never know...after I go to sleep, the temperature could plunge all the way down to 25. No use worrying about it now---there is not one single thing we can do about it.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:55AM
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scottokla(7)

Lucky for us we are due an off-year of pecans anyway after two on-years. Plus about half of our trees are still dormant. I really don't mind not having a crop for a year. The price has been so low that I make well under minimum wage for the hours I work at it. If the crop is under 10k lbs I'd rather the trees all save their energy for the next year.

A bit ago the mesonet station on the river west of you was pretty low, Dawn. Hope you don't drop much.

A friend who sells at farmers markets here already had 200 tomato plants in the ground. He'll be hurting.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:17AM
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devonhubb

Scott, what varieties of Pecan trees do you have?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 7:00AM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

I saw on the news that the owner of Livesay Orchard( porter peaches) had helicopters hovering over the orchard. I really hope they have a good crop. My peaches plums and apples are new this year so I'm not worried about fruit but I feel bad for those of you that depend on it.

I had a new fig planted that was previously grown in a container. I took a chance and planted it in a pretty decently sheltered spot. yesterday I covered it with a blanket and then a trashcan. I had to take off around 7:15 before I left for work. The leaves were a bit crispy feeling. I guess my protection didnt work to well. Same thing on a few bananas I have in the ground. Nothing will die but probably set back a little.

I bet there will be a lot of plants on the clearance racks in the next few days.
Mike

This post was edited by mksmth on Tue, Apr 15, 14 at 9:18

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:16AM
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scottokla(7)

devon, mostly natives but I do have a small 3 acre orchard of Kanza and Pawnee, as well as another 30 or 40 varieties of which I have only a few trees of each.

Looks (mesonet) like everyone got below 32 in the entire state except a few folks in OKC, Tulsa and a few hilly spots scattered around the state.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:26AM
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slowpoke_gardener

We have 27 and heavy frost, Ft. smith states 33 degrees. It looks like we will have a nice day if the wind will stay calm.

All summer plants are in the house, I don't expect the frost to hurt any of the cole crops

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:29AM
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scottokla(7)

I should have at least put something over the potatoes before dark last night. I can already tell they got hit hard. I'll have to wait a few days to know about the berries and pecans.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:03AM
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Lisa_H(7)

These survived...well, they did until I snipped them :)

Iris and Hellebore. I grew the hellebore from seed that I traded on GW. I was quite proud!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:09AM
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miraje(7a)

We got down to 26 degrees (ouch!). I had planted several of my overachieving tomato plants because they were outgrowing their containers. I covered those with pots and uncovered them this morning once we got above 32 degrees. They certainly didn't look happy, but I guess I'll see later today whether they recovered. I left all the peas, carrots, kale, spinach, chard, onions, and lettuce uncovered, and I saw quite a bit of frost on them. I figured they'd all be okay since they're cool season crops. I'm kind of surprised that Texas A&M link lists peas as a plant that would be killed by frost. It's always one of the earliest things I plant.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:53AM
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MiaOKC

I was a daredevil and left everything uncovered, but haven't planted any warm season crops yet. One of my beloved pets is terminally ill and I'm having a hard time with that ... just couldn't get up the will to go out and cover.

We'll see how things fared when I get home from work. I did have peonies in bud and I'm hoping this won't set them back too much.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 11:02AM
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Lisa_H(7)

Mia, my peonies looked fine this morning. I was worried too.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 11:03AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

We only dropped to 28 here, but did have heavy frost. Our Mesonet station dropped to 25.

Scott, I haven't peaked under the row covers yet but expect everything underneath them is fine siince I use DeWitt's heaviest frost blanket that is rated to give 10 degrees of cold protection. All the tomato plants had buckets of water in their north side to give them a little heat from the sun-warmed water. I expect all the tomato plants and their fruit are fine.

The greenhouse only dropped to 38 and already was up in the 50s by 8 am.

I hope this was our last hard freeze but doubt it was our last frost.

I did cover my potatoes. They were the last bed I covered and I almost didn't do it , but was worried we'd stay cold a long time and would have heavy frost, both of which did occur. Some of the young leaves on many trees look a little freeze burned but not as much as I thought they would.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 11:05AM
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okoutdrsman

The only damage I had to my tomatoes was when I uncovered them. I kinda roughed one of my cherokee purples up. It should recover. The rest look just fine.
Potatoes and radishes took a light hit, but should recover.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 11:36AM
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Jen_Adams

Most of my plants seem to have survived, but I've got a couple of sad looking tomato plants that did't get covered well enough and a flower that lost all its blooms.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 1:43PM
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lat0403(Z7-SWOK)

I am so lucky. Our Mesonet station went down to 22 last night and I don't have any damage at all. I don't know for sure, but I don't think my backyard got as cold. My frost blankets all offer 8 degree protection and I was so nervous when I saw that low. I planted early last year too and I was worried a few times, but it never got as cold as it did last night.

Leslie

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 2:30PM
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p_mac(7)

I'm holding my breath on my chickasaw plums and goose berries....had frost blankets on the onions, cabbage, brocs & cauliflower. I covered a clemantis by the back door with a flannel blanket I took off of our bed not 2 weeks ago! ha!

Oh....and the 3 little kittens born last Friday survived too. Mesonet had us at 30, but my thermometer sensor showed we dropped to 22 when I got up at 5 AM.

Paula

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 2:59PM
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Cynthiann(7)

I'm sad since about half of my tomatoes got hit hard especially my bigger ones that were flowering. I'm wondering if I didn't have it down tight enough and the cold wind blew in since not all of my tomatoes had damage. I didn't cover my potatoes since I ran out of frost blankets covering the tomatoes and they are all damaged too. Well, at least I still have lots of tomato transplants left.

Cynthia

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:39PM
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slowpoke_gardener

I had more damage than I thought. Yesterday these were pretty plants. Just after sun-up the thermometer at my north garden said 27 degrees, the computer said it was 31 in Fort Smith. The north garden is about 120' from these plants and does not have near as much damage. Even a lot of the onions are lying down in this garden. I am glad I picked the broccoli yesterday, it may be all I get from this garden.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:58PM
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scottokla(7)

It got down to 22 at the farm. No profit this year! More time with the kids though.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 5:52PM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

Scott. I really hate to hear that. I truly feel for Folks like you and Livesay Orchards and all the other farmers/growers who depend on mother nature to be cooperative.
Where to do you sells yours? Id be more than happy to pick some up from you this fall to help out.

On another note. I had covered a fig that I had just put in the ground with a sheet and then a trash can. Some of the leaves got bit hard. I should have put a couple jugs of hot water or something in there. it will be fine but it was a good learning lesson for me on the hardiness of them.
also I only had snap peas and broccoli in the ground. i covered the broccoli and it seems fine.

Mike

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 10:00AM
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scottokla(7)

We sell almost all of ours wholesale in large lots. It is just a (large) hobby farm for me. I put all of the profit back into it, but there is not much profit. This year I was not expecting much of a crop anyway, probably only a "30% crop" after two large crops in a row.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 10:06AM
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TotemWolf(7 SWOK-Greer County)

Down here in the southwest corner of the state the mercury dropped to 25. I had everything covered and looks like everything made it except a couple of the pepper plants I gambled on and put out early this year. Now if we can just get some rain out this way

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 2:38PM
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chickencoupe

All but one of my tomato plants were terminated. That wasn't good enough. The dog go the remainder, today.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 7:12PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Paula, Oh, new kittens! That's a sure sign of spring too.

I cannot believe how many of y'all dropped to 22 degrees.

I found damage today I didn't notice yesterday. The top 4-6 inches of the dwarf Burford hollies is black. It all was vigorous, new growth spurred by too many hot days the last couple of weeks. Guess I'll prune it all off tomorrow. The pecan leaves look burnt too, and the mimosa tree looks the same. The hummingbirds are fine, though, and I wasn't sure how much cold they would tolerate.

Cynthia, Sometimes that happens. There are various reasons why. Often the reason it occurs is that official temperatures are taken 5' above ground, but plants grow at ground level where the air is not necessarily the same temperature it is 5' above ground. Another could be that the ground had cooled off substantially before you put the row cover on so that the row cover didn't have enough heat to hold in close to the plant. I am really careful to pin my row covers tightly to the ground.

I did have damage on catnip and lemon balm (only a few blackened leaves though) that were covered, but I used old, threadbare Agribon-19 on them because all the good stuff was on veggie rows, and that Agribon, which must be at least 5 years old, doesn't seem to protect the plants now as well as it did its first year. I'm betting it has degraded enough in the sunlight's UV rays that it gives less protection than it once did.

Bon, That's terrible. I hope you yelled at the dog. Are you coming to the Spring Fling? I'll probably be bringing around 100 extra tomato plants, and you're welcome to take home as many as you want.

Dawn

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 11:36PM
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chickencoupe

Dawn, that's very kind of you. I still have a hug on reserve that didn't meet its fate last year. I just can't work it in, this year.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 2:34AM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

Well my onions look pathetic :( they had recovered fairly good after that long late freeze we had not too long age. It seems I still had about 60-70% survive that round. I didnt cover them this time. Id be surprise if I get 30% now. My mother put the same amount in after that longer freeze and hers look great. I guess I just got to eager to get them going. I planted way more than i could ever eat by myself. I was planning on sharing with friends and neighbors. Even the 25-30 onions I hope to get now is more than enough for me so I still feel ok about the loss.

Mike

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 10:34AM
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MiaOKC

I went out to look last night and *knock on wood* didn't find any damage, even though I didn't cover anything. I hadn't yet put out warm season crops, but the onions, asparagus, radish and garlic all look fine so far. The rosemary had just begun its comeback from winter damage so it's hard to tell, but I don't think it's any worse. All my peonies, irises, strawberries, artemesia and hydrangeas (just sprouting back from the roots) seem fine, and the irises started blooming yesterday. I have a co-worker a half mile over who did cover and said all the sheets were stiff with frost when she pulled them, but perhaps we didn't drop as low. I didn't have my thermometer out to check. Maybe the heat island saved us!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 10:44AM
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miraje(7a)

The damage was worse than expected here, too. My kale and swiss chard are totally wiped out, which is surprising because I thought kale was hardier than that. The few tomatoes I set out are dead, too, even though I covered them. The peas look sad on the north side of the trellis, but the south ones look fine.

At least the lettuce, spinach, and carrots are still happy.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 9:19PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Sometimes plants suffer freeze damage, even if they generally are cold-hardy, if they have been experiencing warm weather instead of cold weather, and then the cold suddenly returns. It is all about pre-conditioning. Once the weather warms up and the plants are fat and happy and loving that heat, I think they lose their conditioning to the cold. That's more than likely why they suffered damage during the recent cold spell. The same thing can happen in fall if we stay nice and warm a long time and just don't cool off enough for the plants to develop some conditioning to the cold---and then a big cold spell swoops in and causes damage to plants that ought to be able to easily survive those cold temperatures.

When we have those abrupt changes from pretty warm to pretty cold temperatures, onions often bolt too, particularly if they were getting pretty big before the return of the cold weather. I guess over the next few weeks we'll see if the temperature swings have affected the onions.

Mike, I always plant tons more onions than we'll ever use because some years a cold spell will take out a lot of them. Then, if none of them freeze, die, or bolt, we have onions coming out of our ears. When the harvest is plentiful, I just chop up and slice up a bunch and freeze them in the quantities I use in recipes.

It is funny. People are thrilled if you offer them tomatoes, peaches or even flowers from your garden. Offer them onions, though, and they look at you like you're kinda.....weird. I don't know why that is.

Dawn

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 11:17PM
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chickencoupe

That is weird. And they store well!??

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 11:52PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Sweet onions store somewhat well as long as you cut back on watering as they are maturing, and don't harvest them too early and cure them well. However, they do not store for nearly as long most years as the long-day types (which are difficult to grow in most of OK) that are more pungent in flavor.

Most sweet onions will store well for 2-4 months. Some years I can keep them 6-8 months if they grew in pretty dry conditions and if I cured them very well in the shade for at least a couple of week before clipping off the dried tops and putting them in storage. That's why I freeze a lot of the harvest---to ensure we have home-grown onions year-round.

In a very wet year like 2004 or 2007, the sweet onions are too water-filled and don't store well at all and there's nothing much you can about that. You cannot make it stop raining. Around here, we cannot make it start raining either.

We've had about 4" of rain so far this year, so my onions aren't going to be big at all. The need about 20" of rain/irrigation in a typical year to get really huge.

I just think that home-grown onions aren't appreciated by non-gardeners the way home-grown fruit and veggies like tomatoes are. I expect most non-gardeners just think an onion is an onion is an onion, you know.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 8:41AM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

I agree dawn.

My grandmother can eat onions like crazy and she was bit sadden about how many i lost. Fortunately my mothers crop looks 10 times better than mine. What is funny is her and I split the bunches I bought in half so hers and mine are identical. Only difference is hers were in the ground several weeks after mine. She does live in Glenpool about 8 miles west of me too.

I still had 2 red candy onions from last season in the refrigerator up until a couple weeks ago.

Mike

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 9:10AM
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luvncannin

My onions that we just planted took a beating from the wind but the ones that are over a foot and protected from the wind are just fine. I will have to replant some areas as I probably lost 1/3 of the 200. my neighbor helper told me the other day that I may have plant without him this weekend since his parents were taking him to OK for Easter. I was so glad to get his ok because he loves to plant, I hate for him to miss out. He especially loves to plant onions so I will save that for him.
This cold/wind also set me back on the hardening off schedule. I just couldn't take the chance with them.
kim

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 10:21AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Mike, I had a friend who could eat onions like apples. I like them, but not that much.

Kim, It has been more of a challenge than usual to harden off the plants this year. If I put them back in the greenhouse to get them out of ridiculous wind for a couple of days, they seem to regress (more than most other years) and then suffer sunburn or windburn more easily. The other day (maybe it was Wednesday? maybe Tuesday?) I had tomato plants out that have been staying out up to 10 hours a day, but the wind was gusting in the upper 30s and they took a real beating. They even sunburned a little. I think the 2 or 3 days they stayed in the greenhouse during the very cold weather just softened them up all over again. It has been a constant thing of one step forward, two steps back, and in some ways, spring always is like that here, but I usually have more wind issues in March than in April. I remember complaining to Tim that the wind wasn't blowing enough in March. It is a problem when that happens because plants don't harden off as much as they should to strong winds if they aren't having strong winds. Well, the wind has blown enough in April and the plants and I are tired of it.

Some of the onions in my bundles this year were way too big, but I planted them anyhow. Those are going to bolt at some point. It is just a matter of time because of the size they were when planted. I planted all those overly large ones together about 1" apart to use as scallions, and they are more than big enough to pull and use now, but I want to wait and see how long it takes them to bolt, and then I'll pull them. By putting all the ones that were too big in one place like that, I won't be shocked when they bolt and I'll know they were the ones that were too big. It also will help me know if the other ones that were the right size at planting time bolt.

Usually, I have very little trouble with plants from Dixondale Farms bolting, and when they do bolt, I know it isn't their fault---it is the crazy weather. We are due to have a bad onion bolting year because we haven't had one in a while. It may not happen this year, but if it did, I wouldn't be surprised because of the recurring really cold weather interspersed with highs in the 80s/lows in the 60s.

Have fun planting. What I loved most about yesterday was that there was practically no wind, and also that the hummingbird wars were in progress, which is entertaining to watch. I try to spread the hummingbird feeders around the yard and garden far enough apart from one another that one aggressive hummer cannot defend two feeders at once. We have had hummers back for about 3 weeks and in good numbers, but yesterday we had about three times as many all of a sudden. I expect a bunch of migrating ones arrived at our place yesterday and our resident ones were trying to keep them away from the feeders.

I am indoors making more nectar so I can hang 2 or 3 more feeders. At least it will be a low wind day so I won't have the wind blowing the feeders back and forth so much that the nectar leaks out of the feeding holes.

Dawn

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 10:49AM
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luvncannin

I was all set to get out early today and wow is it cold. I will wait till after lunch and see if it warms up.. Yesterday it stayed around 50 but hey I still have plenty to do inside too!
Kim

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 11:33AM
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scottokla(7)

After getting a fair look at the pecan trees today, it appears the bottom 40 or so feet of the trees lost all buds on any tree that was past budswell. About 30% of native trees and 5% of papershells were still dormant enough to NOT be killed back by the 9 hrs below 32 and couple of hours at 22 degrees.

What started at likely to be about a 30-40% crop will now be a 15-20% crop overall with no papershells worth investing in for the year. All I can say is at least it was not as bad as 2007 and at least it didn't happen in the last two years when we had large crops.

So even the near perfect winter and spring weather were not enough to overcome the last week of warmth and the hard freeze of April 15, 2014.

I cannot stress enough the importance of understanding your specific location and soil very well before choosing a type of pecan variety (papershell) to plant or graft.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 10:50PM
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