July 1, 2010 at 8:48 a.m.

May frost was devastating

May frost was devastating
May frost was devastating

Sometime ago I wrote an article that frost isn't always bad. It was late in the fall and we had not yet seen a killing frost. The farmers were waiting for frost so their soybeans and corn could dry for harvest and those who raised apples were hoping it would freeze so the apples would sweeten. However, the frost on the night of May 9 was all bad as temperatures fell to the mid-twenties.

The unusually warm weather in April gave a jump start to sprouting, growing, and blooming. My Connell-Red apple trees were in full bloom when the frost came. It took a week to 10 days to see what damage had been done. I noticed that the blooms had turned brown but it took about three weeks to realize that there were not any small apples on the trees. Last year I had a full harvest on all my trees so I expected that some trees may have fewer or no apples on them this year. I was very disappointed to see exactly one apple on all 70 trees. I talked with apple growers who said that especially for early apples, they expected less than half of last year's harvest. In some orchards the early varieties that were blooming took a hit but the later varieties went untouched. Also trees on higher ground survived the frost while trees blooming in lower areas were hit hard.

A couple of weeks before the killing frost one of my articles was on what to plant and what not to plant. I had at least ten calls before the frost asking about covering for frost, mostly strawberries. Strawberry flowers are most vulnerable to frost damage when fully open. You can always tell if your strawberries were hit at harvest time. The small hard berries are a good indication that there was frost damage. Large strawberry patches were protected by covers or spraying water on plants during the night. Some large strawberry growers left winter cover of straw on for an extended time to delay blooming until the threat of frost had passed.

I looked at my grapes the next day and they looked like they had gone through a fire. A saving grace for grapes is that they will have a second leafing if something happens to the first one. It may reduce your yield but at least you will have some grapes. I looked at my grapes the other day and one would never know that they looked dead in May. Very young grape whips are not so lucky. That is why they are never planted until early June, because once frozen they are gone.

My early red potatoes were planted during the warm days in April. After it turned cooler they took almost a month to come up. They came up just before the frost and were burned off. They came back fine and look healthier than ever. Peas, spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage that were in the ground did fine. Gardeners who were anxious and had put out peppers and tomatoes or planted beans, sweet corn, pumpkins, cucumbers, and squash, replanted.

Comments:

Commenting has been disabled for this item.

Events

February

SU
MO
TU
WE
TH
FR
SA
28
29
30
31
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
25
26
27
28
29
1
2
SUN
MON
TUE
WED
THU
FRI
SAT

To Submit an Event Sign in first

Today's Events

No calendar events have been scheduled for today.

Events

February

SU
MO
TU
WE
TH
FR
SA
28
29
30
31
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
25
26
27
28
29
1
2
SUN
MON
TUE
WED
THU
FRI
SAT

To Submit an Event Sign in first

Today's Events

No calendar events have been scheduled for today.