Upcoming Pattern Bad News For Fruit Tree Growers

WOAY-TV (Oak Hill, WV): A developing sustainable warm pattern to close out February will put smiles on a few faces, but not of fruit tree farmers.

Chief Meteorologist Chad Merrill has the story:

Mira Danilovich, Consumer Horticulture Specialist of the West Virginia Extension Office says, “Usually comes February and we have a whole week of temperatures above 50 degrees. Well, by that time, my plants, my apples or my peaches have satisfied that minimum requirement for chill hours and with the onset of the favorable growing conditions, they’re waking up this all it’s time to wake up. They start to pump the water and you see the root system is active.”

As West Virginia Extension specialist Myra Danilovich mentioned, we are at that critical point where temperatures are above 50 degrees. While we have a fly in the ointment this weekend, we are off to the races next week and that is not good for the fruit trees in the east.

Danilovich says, “Those trees are going to be ready. They have the set the minimum requirement for the chilling and so that means they’re ready to wake up. All they need is warm temperatures, the environment; the environmental conditions need to change. And if they change to the suitable growing environment, so the rising temperatures, they’re going to start waking up and they’re going to set themselves for a freeze or late frost if it happens.”

Across much of the Mid-Atlantic, northern Appalachians and Ohio Valley, we have achieved the chilling hours requirement. Those trees are completely dormant, but a sustainable warm pattern will bring them out of dormancy. Now, from about Raleigh, N.C., into the southern Appalachians, we are below the threshold for the chilling hours, meaning these trees have not even gone into dormancy because the winter has been so warm.

So poof, a warm pattern next week will trick the fruit trees into believing the growing season is underway.

Upcoming Pattern notes:

  1. Sustainable warm pattern develops early next week and continues into early March.
  2. Temperatures will trick the fruit trees into thinking the growing season is underway.
  3. A few more hard frosts are likely late March into April.

So, we are setting ourselves up for a sustainable, warm pattern. Unfortunately, the average hard frost in the region occurs from mid to late April into early May in the Appalachians.

After a warm spell, we are sure to have a hard freeze later in the spring that will be damaging to the fruit trees.



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