Freezing Temperatures & Frost Protection, Part 2

So, we are one day in to our wintry blast. So far the low has only been 30 degrees, which is not a big deal for most things. We also have a lovely coating of ice, which is breaking tree branches right and left. The forecast for tonight is for 26 degrees.

You can see that there’s ice everywhere, including on our garlic! You can see how the waxy leaves caused the water to run while it was freezing!

So, what do you do about ice on your vegetables? LEAVE IT ALONE! The ice is actually a small measure of protection at this point, and at any rate, you need to let things thaw normally. What about tonight? Do you cover things? It is up to you. Even if we get down to 26, you shouldn’t see much damage on things other than potatoes.

But what about fruit trees?

Iced CrabappleThis crabapple is still budding out, not yet in full bloom. For our fruiting apples and other trees, what should you do? First, no need to remove the ice. Again, it is providing some measure of protection, especially as long as it is still raining or drizzling.

The ice will probably melt this afternoon, as the temperatures get slightly warmer. So should you cover your fruit trees to protect the buds and blossoms?

First, you should look at this chart to determine what the damaging temperature would be for the stage of bloom your tree is in and determine how much damage there is likely to be: Critical Temps for Fruit Trees. If you are only looking at 10% damage or a little more, I wouldn’t bother covering your trees.

If you are looking at a significant amount of damage, you could cover your trees, if you have the means to do so. HOWEVER, they are also forecasting 12 mph wind with gusts up to 20 mph. Most likely, the wind will cause your pockets of warm air to blow away, so covering won’t get you much. I know, I’m a bastion of cheery news today, aren’t I?

Looking at the conditions, I would guess that this wintry blast is going to cause some percentage of damage to our fruit crop this year, but probably not a complete loss. But then, it looks like we’re going to get another chance next week too!

 

About Rebecca

I'm a Horticulture Educator with Sedgwick County Extension, a branch of K-State Research and Extension, located in Wichita, KS. I teach about fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Posted on April 10, 2013, in Around the Garden and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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