After warm February, growers keep an eye on fruit crops
After a warm February, temperatures are now turning colder in the mountains.
We visited Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards in Henderson County to get a look at how the weather is impacting local crops.
Growers are keeping a close eye on peach trees right now, as trees are already budding.
When you begin to see color or flowering, that’s when growers say things can become problematic.
They are hoping the colder weather this week helps these buds remain dormant.
Alan Ward, local grower and owner of Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards, says Henderson County is about 10% behind in the number of cold days needed for crops, but says this week should help them catch up.
It’s during the cold days that crops hibernate and regenerate.
He says his apple trees have just started to bud, but are faring fine right now.
The hope is that temperatures remain cold, but not freezing.
“When you get down in the 20s and have a freeze, that will freeze the water inside the plant. A frost is kind of a light covering like you experienced this morning, but it will burn some of those flowers and tender shoots, and affect the development,” Ward says.
Ward also says April and May are crucial months because once the buds open up, disease can strike and impact the fruit. He says hard freezes or frost can prompt that to happen.
Some ornamental plants are also already blooming.
To protect your plants in the freezing temperatures, local horticulture agents recommend covering them with a breathable material like a bed sheet, and avoid using plastic.