How Much Cold Can Fruit Trees Withstand? - Homesteading Today
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  #1  
Old 03/28/09, 12:12 PM
ValerieM's Avatar  
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: NW corner of Arkansas
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How Much Cold Can Fruit Trees Withstand?

With the cold snap we're having right now, and the snow/sleet that's been going on for a day (and expected to go all today as well), they're talking about 3 inches of snow. Our temperatures, at the lowest, during this "phase" are expected to get down to around 28 degrees, with a wind chill being in the low 20's for about 24 hours.

My question: will my fruit trees pull through this okay, or will it negatively affect their production? The peach and plum trees are done flowering, and have been leafing out the past week or so. My apple trees have just barely shown signs of life, so I'm not too concerned about them. What do you all think? Are the peaches and plums doomed?

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Last edited by ValerieM; 03/28/09 at 01:48 PM. Reason: Added more information and corrected a grammatical error.
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  #2  
Old 03/28/09, 01:00 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Nevada
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Very possible. The apple should be okay, but last year we lost most of our peaches due to a late frost and yours sounds worse than we had. Sorry! Here in Northern Nevada we seem to get a good crop every 3 years or so due to the weather.

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  #3  
Old 03/28/09, 02:07 PM
In Remembrance
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: South Central Kansas
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This email information that I received from Kansas State University on the subject may help answer your questions.
-----------
Hello, everyone.

I am sending this to everyone on our K-State Horticulture Newsletter listserv because we are hearing from a number of people very concerned with the winter storm this weekend. Many people seem to be spooked because they remember the Easter Freeze a couple of years ago. This will be nothing like that. During the Easter Freeze, we had two nights that bottomed out about 18 degrees and we were much further along both in date (April 6 & 7) and in stage of plant growth with many plants being in leaf. The major concern this year will be with fruit trees in bloom. If the temperature gets down to about 25 we will probably lose about 90% of the fruit buds. The tree will be fine but the fruit crop will not. However, if the fruit buds are still in tight bud we should see minimal damage.

Spring-flowering bulbs in flower may have flower spikes or petals affected but we will have to wait and see. Vegetables such as onions, broccoli, peas, spinach and cabbage should be fine as long as they are hardened off and we don't get much lower than the mid-20's. Actually, it will be helpful if we get enough snow to cover small plants as snow is an excellent insulator.

Again, I don't think we will see much damage to plants from this storm except possibly for the fruit crop.

Ward

Ward Upham
K-State Research & Extension
-------
(email address deleted)
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I still have hope that my apricot tree will still produce as most blooms had not yet opened. Hovering around 24 to 25º for lows.

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  #4  
Old 03/28/09, 02:09 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Colorado
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Here in Colorado this is a pretty typical scenario. Early blooming species/varieties always have issues. We almost never have apricots as they bloom far too early and we always get late frosts sometimes as late as the end of May. (three weeks of 70F followed by 18" snow Thursday and last night down in the low teens which seems to have moved your direction...)
Peaches may do ok, marginal here, if they have set pin fruit and it doesn't get much colder than 28F but you will likely get a lot of thinning. Plums could be ok, too. There is a chance that even if you do get fruit it may be damaged. Peach pit split is often associated with late frost interfering with the early and rapid fruit/pit growth and the fruit may spoil.
As long as the buds are tight they can stand considerable cold.
My trees are blooming here, too. Pears are in full bloom except the Asian varieties, apricots are just starting, and the peach buds have swelled and some of the plums are just starting to bloom. The Nanking cherries are in full bloom but the sweet and sour cherries haven't started yet. Apples are a long way away.

You could try covering with frost cover but my experience has been that it is somewhat futile if the temps stay low or there is much wind and it is a huge pain of you have more than one or two trees. You never know what the weather might do...

I have also learned that early dormant oil spray lowers the trunk albedo just enough to cause even earlier blooming so I don't do it as early as I used to - I spray in the fall and late spring.

Good luck and I hope you at least get larger good quality fruit if not more of it.

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  #5  
Old 03/28/09, 02:23 PM
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Thanks to all who've replied thus far.... one more question: What does "tight bud" mean? I'm new to having fruit trees, and am not familiar with all the correct terminology.

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  #6  
Old 03/28/09, 04:32 PM
Banned
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ValerieM View Post
Thanks to all who've replied thus far.... one more question: What does "tight bud" mean? I'm new to having fruit trees, and am not familiar with all the correct terminology.
It means that the flower hasn't started to open yet. It's still a bud and may or may not have a bit of color showing at the tip.

Martin
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  #7  
Old 03/28/09, 05:38 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: NW corner of Arkansas
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Ah, I see. Thanks for the explanation. So, my trees are beyond this stage- they're already done flowering, and are leafing out now. I guess it'll just be a waiting game to see if they produce fruit or not. How frustrating.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paquebot View Post
It means that the flower hasn't started to open yet. It's still a bud and may or may not have a bit of color showing at the tip.

Martin
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  #8  
Old 03/28/09, 08:33 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
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It's really weird to look out your back window and see a snow storm in progress while you apple trees are in full bloom. Tonights temperature is what I'm really worrying about cause it's colder out there right now then has been all day while it was snowing.

Oh, what about if you have a fruit tree that has already bloomed out and shed it's peddles? Will they be alright? I have one early apple tree and a pear tree that have already bloomed and already lost their peddles. Will they loose their fruits?

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Last edited by Oldcountryboy; 03/28/09 at 08:35 PM.
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  #9  
Old 03/28/09, 11:22 PM
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Yellow and white house
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Windy in Kansas View Post
This email information that I received from Kansas State University on the subject may help answer your questions.
-----------
Hello, everyone.

I am sending this to everyone on our K-State Horticulture Newsletter listserv because we are hearing from a number of people very concerned with the winter storm this weekend. Many people seem to be spooked because they remember the Easter Freeze a couple of years ago. This will be nothing like that. During the Easter Freeze, we had two nights that bottomed out about 18 degrees and we were much further along both in date (April 6 & 7) and in stage of plant growth with many plants being in leaf. The major concern this year will be with fruit trees in bloom. If the temperature gets down to about 25 we will probably lose about 90% of the fruit buds. The tree will be fine but the fruit crop will not. However, if the fruit buds are still in tight bud we should see minimal damage.

Spring-flowering bulbs in flower may have flower spikes or petals affected but we will have to wait and see. Vegetables such as onions, broccoli, peas, spinach and cabbage should be fine as long as they are hardened off and we don't get much lower than the mid-20's. Actually, it will be helpful if we get enough snow to cover small plants as snow is an excellent insulator.

Again, I don't think we will see much damage to plants from this storm except possibly for the fruit crop.

Ward

Ward Upham
K-State Research & Extension
-------
(email address deleted)
---------
I still have hope that my apricot tree will still produce as most blooms had not yet opened. Hovering around 24 to 25º for lows.
I actually took a class this guy taught a month ago! lol Sorry, had to share, thought it was kinda cool. I'm supposed to be getting some columnar apples shipped here any day now, I think they may end up spending some time either in the house (depending on how big they are and what the pots look like, dirt wise) or at least the garage. We'll see. Not that I expect to get any fruit until next year.

DK in KS
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  #10  
Old 03/29/09, 10:01 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
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Well my fruit trees survived last night as I don't think it got as cold as predicted. Standing water was just barely skimmed over with ice this morning. However, tonight it's suppose to get down to 28 degrees. When looking my pear tree over, I noticed little bitty pears. I hope they make it another night. I would really love to have some home grown pears to eat on.

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  #11  
Old 03/29/09, 11:00 PM
Katie
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Twining, Mi.
Posts: 19,751

We had a late freeze the end of May last year & I didn't get any fruit at all off my 12 tree's except for a few peaches off 1 tree. It's a mixed orchard & the freeze killed off the blossoms.

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  #12  
Old 03/30/09, 12:09 AM
In Remembrance
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: South Central Kansas
Posts: 11,072
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Originally Posted by DKR82 View Post
I actually took a class this guy taught a month ago!
DK in KS
I have been in email communication with Mr. Upham a few times and he seems really nice. Last year he asked via the list serve if anyone knew of apple tree root stock availability. Since he had taken the time to answer some specific questions for me I searched around on the Internet until I found a credible source in Washington state and let him know about it. I seem to remember him writing back that he had found some closer.

Wish K-State professor Charles (Chuck) Marr was still around as I always enjoyed his High Plains Journal weekly column during gardening season, his newsletters, and his projects and results from K-State. Have heard him speak on gardening a time or so with a Q&A session afterward. Expect he is enjoying his well earned retirement.

Ted Carey at the Kansas City (Overland Park?) K-State facility is really nice as well.
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