And here comes the freeze

So you covered a tree all winter//what variety? I was going to do that with my Saturn and by the looks of it, i should have. Winter took out most of its flowers… I might dig it back out of the ground and put it back into a container//prune it good to get some more new wood.

I’d wait for tomorrow to make any travel plans, I could lose a lot tonight. Current forecast lows are in the 25-27F range.

If you want to watch my suffering in real-time I just got my new weather station and hooked it up this morning:


Are all your peaches flowering?

Yes they are all in bloom. All but apples and a few cherries and European plums are in bloom now, or past it.

Looks like it the rain is moving out. Couldn’t see any snow on your horizon.

I was worrying about the coming freeze, went out to look at the orchard and an enormous tree branch from my neighbors side to the north had crashed down on it!! It’s been quite windy. Crazy. One apricot took the brunt of it, miraculously, and even that is well above the graft. But no apricots for a while on that one.

So covering with leaves and branches should help for the freeze, right? :smiley:


That’s cool Scott.

I depend on some PWS around me. At least it gives me a feel for what the temps are around me.

I did end up firing up the heater this morning. It got down to 31ish on some of the PWS I was checking, but when I got out and checked my cheap thermometers, they were colder. So I don’t know if the fruit got hit more or not.

Here is the makeshift heater contraption we put together. I originally rented 4 heaters, but one didn’t work, so I ended up going w/ three.

After trying this I really don’t think it helped much, so I probably won’t do it again. According to this kind of research, the trees have to be heated once every 8 minutes, which is impossible to do w/ such small equipment.

The big “Frostbuster” heats several rows at once, but these small heaters really don’t blow hard enough to do that, even though they put out a lot of heat.

I’ve lit fires in the orchard and now tried these heaters. In the end I don’t know how much fruit will be left this year, looks like we still have one more frost left. I’m going to try to get a mild copper spray on. If anything it will help w/ bac. spot.

I really think the best approach to years like this is to plant varieties which are either late blooming, or bloom over a long period of time.

I wish this year was better for everyone. I don’t think the damage has been this widespread for everyone, since 2007, where all fruit crops were wiped out in the Midwest and much of the South.


Ok I have an alarm set for 28F on my new weather gadget. I am going to wake up and go out with my 500,000 BTU weed flamer and warm things up if the alarm goes off. According to some site the tractor-pulled versions of propane flamers (Frost Dragon) can give you 3-4F of protection. I don’t see a BTU rating on those but they look more powerful than my flamer. But I can get mine closer to the canopy.


You and I think alike Scott, except that sometimes I feel like I couldn’t be trusted w/ your flamer. Looking at some of these trees w/ no fruit, I might just turn the flame thrower on them. :wink:


Not all winter, I only covered 4 nights this winter, then was sure to uncover or at least vent my “bubble” once the temp was high enough. I’ve got Intrepid, Reliance, and Sweet Crimson (a zone 5 sweet cherry) planted in a fairly tight group so I can cover them all at once using one big piece of plastic and one 500 watt light if needed, whether a midwinter deep freeze or a post bloom frost.
Last winter my plan was to cover those 3 plus a Contender all winter (built a frame and everything), but that was a mistake as I realized too late that even though I was unplugging the light in the morning, it got too warm during the day when the sun was out ( basically 30 degrees warmer than outside air). Lost the Contender and the other 3 died back pretty much to the trunk. I did get about 50 nice peaches though, thanks to your encouragement to keep some trees in the garage.
Here’s a pic of the survivors today

Heres a not so great closeup of the flower buds


Please report back Scott on how you like your weather station, I am considering the same model. The listing on Amazon says you can add a webcam to it. That might be pretty helpful in figuring out what kind of varmits are çoming out of the woods at night to steal fruit.


So they were warming up way too much during the day and then plummeting at night… i wonder if a white tarp or something that would deflect light would work better (keep it cooler during the day)?

My tree garages are full of fruit buds …>The Robada looks like it will be one big flower it has so many swelling flower buds.

Rob, yeah I thought the same thing, even black plastic, any thing to keep the lightbulb heat in at night and sunlight out during the day ( I used clear plastic). It would be nice to cover in Dec. and not worry about it until late Feb. Good ole el nino really helped, 4 nights of monkeying around wasn’t too bad.

Mine too, can’t wait until Wed to push them out and watch em pop. Last year I did it a little to early for my Mericrest nectarine and it died back to the trunk

We’re supposed to get to 27 tonight, and I don’t have much fruit forming, so I used a double layer of bubble wrap and taped it around my little fruitlets. I also have a just-post-bloom pear that I did the flower clusters on. I covered the blueberries completely because mine aren’t that tall. My brambles and strawberries are fending for themselves, so I hope that works out. Later strawberries are fine enough with me.

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Hi Chris, I think the webcam is a feature of Weather Underground, not of the weather station. If you hook up a webcam to WU you will see it along with the station.

So far I have been really impressed with the station. The only downside is the $300 price. I almost got the cheaper non-wifi model but I couldn’t put the console in the spot I wanted as it needs an Ethernet port. These temperature alerts are really useful, I don’t have to stay up all night monitoring the temperature. You can also set alerts for high wind and large rain accumulation, I plan on doing that as we get problems in both cases. I had a cheap Oregon Scientific unit but it was a piece of junk. These Ambient Weather units are supposed to be a lot more durable, we will see.

I was out inspecting my orchard and covering the poms, it looks like I lost a fair amount of my apricots in earlier freezes. The little fruitlets are browning. There are some good ones but many more bad than good. Some of the peaches are also toast. I have a couple varieties with the double blossom flowers (e.g. Red Baron) and they seem much more frost adverse - it seems all the fruits are dead on them.

So how do you think you did? Looking at your obs you dropped to 27F, but weren’t there for very long at all… BWI (airport in Baltimore) dropped to 26F but only briefly…

Rob, Omaha is in the clear for now. 70 degrees today. I got 90% of the blooms saved on pluots, peaches, and plums. What a relief!!!



Good job! You guys stayed just far enough west of this garbage to dodge the brunt of this latest plunge. I’m going to look mine over and see if anything was damaged. Extended looks very nice for you and that heat should be creeping up here as the week progresses… NWS here said my 2 favorite words…Omega Block (a pattern that locks in warmth for more then a day)

Very warm/mild long range… Cold air is all getting kicked out over the Atlantic…good place for it.



Wanted to let you know I called the number or their website a couple times Friday. The owner “Chalmers” was in a meeting then out. I’m thinking w/ 500,000 peach trees, this guy is probably as busy as the president of the U.S.

I have been reading a little more about frost protection measures. I found what I think is a pretty good online resource which may answer some of these questions (especially as it relates to preventative sprays).

Here is a link to one of the chapters. (Scroll down to the bottom to read the section on bacteria control. The author discusses other sprays in that section too, but more importantly discusses how freezes kill flowers.)

I had wondered why the label of Kocide indicated it must be sprayed at least 24 hrs. in advance of a frost event. Turns out it’s the amino acids in the bacteria which start to form the ice crystals. After killing the bacteria, the amino acids take a little time to degrade. I assume the 24 hrs. is for that.

The article makes it clear bactericide effectiveness is situation specific, and so may or may not work, depending on many factors. The principle looks sound though.

I sprayed a very low dose of copper yesterday, but I doubt it would be enough to help anything. More for just bac. spot control.

I got down to 23F, my buds are a little past first pink. Most look OK, some are dead. The pluots look worse. The peaches better. 32, 30, and 32 the next three nights after that no problems. I don’t plan to protect them though anymore.

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