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Observation about total crop loss from frost.

Posted by denninmi 6A SE Michigan (My Page) on
Mon, May 21, 12 at 15:41

Well, since literally all of the trees have ZERO crop, they seem to be putting on a tremendous amount of vegetative growth.

I cannot find a SINGLE apple or pear anywhere now. The few pears on my Bartlett that had begun to grow just bit have dropped, black in the centers just as all the rest were. I have about 2 dozen sour cherries handing on, and I found 3 peaches on one tree and two on another. Whoo hoo!

I guess that frees me from the majority of my spraying duties for the year, other than against disease and perhaps a late season oil spray to clean up the various nasties that might try to overwinter.

Without fruit, I realize they're just shade trees for the year, but the foliage on them looks particularly healthy. Maybe its just residual from last years ideal growing conditions with abundant rain, maybe its because they lost the fruit? Whatever the reason, I suspect that they will be loaded with buds for next year unless the summer turns hot and droughty.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Observation about total crop loss from frost.

Oh denninmi, that is not a good report. I am so sorry. When I have just one tree disaster I think about waiting another entire year for a new season, but a whole orchard. I cannot imagine. I hope you have another fabulous hobby, or sport you can play this summer! Mrs. G


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RE: Observation about total crop loss from frost.

Ah, you know, its just one of those things. No use crying over spilled milk. I guess I'll be eating Washington State apples and pears and California plums, peaches, etc. like everyone else this year. I know there won't be a "local" crop based on what I've heard in the local media -- they are saying 95 to 99% loss on most orchard crops this year in Michigan.


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RE: Observation about total crop loss from frost.

I second MrsG47's sentiments. I'm very sorry to hear that. For both you and Harvestman! :-( -Glenn


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RE: Observation about total crop loss from frost.

I offer you commiseration although I do have a scattering of crop potential- and not what I would have expected. I only have a few apple trees with any crop at all but a couple of my plums are almost adequately fruited and there might be enough peaches for me and mine- mostly on early varieties. I would have expected the later flowering apples to handle the cold better.

I suggest you focus on summer pruning to keep light where you want your fruit (and on spurs) and do not give trees any N if you were planning to. Anything that reduces vigor will be helpful for full sized trees.

Your peaches in particular should be kept down as they grow like nuts when they have no fruit. Been many years since I've had to observe this.

The orchards I manage are showing a poor apple crop, even on sites protected from hard frost. I think last summers monsoon combined with early warm spring followed by wet cool drastically reduced crop even on many trees not burned by hard frost. Stored energy was reduced by monsoon and used up by early warmth but before trees could recoup the sun vanished so they abandoned flowers. Anyway, that's my theory.

Cornell is advising growers to consider installing frost protection because of possible permanent climate change.


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RE: Observation about total crop loss from frost.

"Frost protection" -- what exactly do they mean by that? Heaters/fans? Systems to spray warm water?

I guess that's ok, but it's expensive for them, it certainly would either raise the cost of the produce or cut into profits (if they have any!)

I don't envy farmers, it must be a hard way to make a living.


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RE: Observation about total crop loss from frost.

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Mon, May 21, 12 at 18:34

Yep, 95% loss or more. I only know one guy who thinks he will have some peaches. I have been talking to friends about organizing an expedition in Indiana or Kentucky this Fall to pick storage apples. Yes, I will need the big freezer with the brewing thermostat, but I was going to get it in a few years anyway. I will surely add grapes (June blooming) and chestnuts (July) to my collection.


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RE: Observation about total crop loss from frost.

On peaches freeze start rot around seed just before ripe so may lose some big peaches to that Its happen to me in zone 8 with 21 degree in 2 hours from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. it warmed back up before daylight to 34 degrees that 2 hour low got hold crop.


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RE: Observation about total crop loss from frost.

Um, my grapes were a total loss, too. The flowers don't open until June, but the buds that contain the flowers are very susceptible to frost -- the same frost that killed the rest of it got them. Same story with chestnuts -- once again, the buds are already there, formed but not expanded. My chestnuts were just at the stage that buds were opening, and I'd say about 20% of the buds on the trees were open enough to be killed, so they probably will still have a crop.

It's actually quite interesting what DIDN'T suffer losses -- blueberries look fine at this point. Rasp. and blackberries were not far enough along to be damaged. Damage to strawberries was insignificant for the same reason, only a small percentage of flowers were mature enough to be harmed. Currents and gooseberries are unphased. Interestingly, about half of the flowers on the honeyberry seemed to die. Autumn olive too, seemed to lose some flowers, which were in full bloom when the freeze hit.


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RE: Observation about total crop loss from frost.

Um, my grapes were a total loss, too. The flowers don't open until June, but the buds that contain the flowers are very susceptible to frost -- the same frost that killed the rest of it got them. Same story with chestnuts -- once again, the buds are already there, formed but not expanded. My chestnuts were just at the stage that buds were opening, and I'd say about 20% of the buds on the trees were open enough to be killed, so they probably will still have a crop.

It's actually quite interesting what DIDN'T suffer losses -- blueberries look fine at this point. Rasp. and blackberries were not far enough along to be damaged. Damage to strawberries was insignificant for the same reason, only a small percentage of flowers were mature enough to be harmed. Currents and gooseberries are unphased. Interestingly, about half of the flowers on the honeyberry seemed to die. Autumn olive too, seemed to lose some flowers, which were in full bloom when the freeze hit.


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RE: Observation about total crop loss from frost.

The Cornell message was to commercial growers only, some of whom used helicopters to save crops this season. Apparently the helicopters worked better than wind machines. I guess those who could save their crops will sell at a premium and maybe even make a profit after paying for all that helicopter time.


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RE: Observation about total crop loss from frost.

In southern Ontario, on high ground. Lost sweet and sour cherries, older grape vines (new canes still coming up). Got pear midges on pear tree for the first time reducing yield. One young Toka plum flowered, but didn't produce. Hazelnut failed. First time I've seen failure of sweet and sour cherries. Usually they are very abundant.

What survived? Apples, some pears, Superior Japanese plum, all blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, Early European prune plum, strawberries.


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RE: Observation about total crop loss from frost.

We lucked out here this year, even apricots surviving the few nights (3 or 4) in the 20's since late March.

But last year was a disaster, not only in terms of late freezes killing blossoms, but also the freak record cold snap in February doing in the stone fruit flower buds while still in dormancy, and killing back some plants entirely. Drought during the winter and spring only compounded the problem.

So I did not observe the kind of rapid growth you're talking about due to no fruit on the trees last year. Instead, it was quite the opposite due to the winter, late freezes, and drought.

This year though things are different. Everything is putting on fantastic growth along with nice crops of fruit. The bloom on apple trees this year was mind boggling, and the swarms of migrating moths took care of pollination in no time. Luckily the apple trees seem to be self-thinning already because it would have been way too much fruit.


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RE: Observation about total crop loss from frost.

The strangest thing is that the paw paws seem to be holding a developing crop although they had fully open flowers when we got 26 F. I've often lost them in the past when what didn't make it this year had great crops. It also looks like enough of the kiwi vines were unfrozen to assure a crop. This is an alternate universe kind of a season.


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