Critical freeze on Spring buds

Mon. Apr. 4, 2016

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Critical freeze on Spring buds

An audience member at a presentation I recently gave asked me why she had no strawberries last year.  Well, that’s kind of a wide open question until you dig a bit and realize what the climate was at the time.  Spring had sprung early, like it has this year.  Buds were out and, then we got cold.  That is what we call “nipping it in the bud”, it froze off any chance of fruit.

Light freeze: 29F to 32F

Moderate freeze: 25F to 28F

Severe freeze: 24F and colder

freeze damage
freeze damage

We’re above average this year too and many have seen some bud break.  That can be okay depending on what comes next.  There are varying temperatures and stages of when bud freeze will occur on fruits, so it also depends on when buds of fruits starting to show.

strawberry freezeEarly bud break can be okay depending on what comes next.  There are varying temperatures and stages of when bud freeze will occur on fruits, so it also depends on when buds of fruits starting to show.  A tight strawberry bud can tolerate temperatures down to 22 F. As the bud begins to open and approaches a “popcorn stage” the critical temperature rises to 26.5 F. The fruit’s critical temperature is 28 F, and the flower itself is most sensitive with its critical temperature being 30 F.

freeze damage on fruit
freeze damage on fruit

Deciduous fruit trees follow a similar pattern although the temperatures will not be exactly the same.  Check this link bud freeze thresholds on fruit trees.

Microclimates in your own yards can make a difference.  Large bodies of water moderate air temperatures and urban areas with buildings and pavement act as heat syncs that can radiate heat back at night.

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