Protecting budding trees from frost

We have had some crazy weather here the past few weeks. Temperatures have reached 60 - 70 degrees and one of my apple trees thinks its time to wake up. :frowning: Is there anything I can do to protect the buds from frost? It’s supposed to drop into the 20s this weekend and I’m hoping there is a way to protect the trees. Would covering them with a sheet help? Sucks that the screwy temps are messing with my tree.

Simply put no. A sheet has some value when you are flirting with the 30-32 degree range and you have heat still trapped into the ground. Weather can be cruel at times. Depending on the bud stage they can handle down into the mid 20s if not too far along with minimum damage.

You can hang a light bulb in the center of the tree and turn it on and cover it with a tarp for a few days until the warm weather return.


Probably, there is not much that we can do. However, you may try putting up some kind of wind-blocking shelter around the tree. The combination of wind and frost “feels” colder and causes more damage than just frost. The difference is not very significant, but it might be this very last straw that breaks the camel’s back and it is possible that you avoid it and save at least a fraction of buds from the cold by covering your tree. If the tree is “manageable” size, you can put up some poles around it and attach some tar paper or similar wind-blocking material.

Several of us learned last March 29th that putting a sheet alone over them actually invites more harm when a rapid but short freeze period occurs. At least that was true of full bloom and tiny fruitlets.

This page from Clemson has a good pictorial description of what temperatures are harmful to peaches at various stages.

If you are nervous about what 29 degrees or so will do this weekend, wait until you see your Atlanta forecast for next Tuesday and Wednesday, which predicts low’s of 24 and 22 with a high on Wed of 39. :smile:

It might surprise you how hardy apple buds are. At least for the colder overnights coming up you won’t be going straight from steady warm temperatures to very low ones. There’s some cooling in between to slow down those life juices in the trees.

This is early Feb on the eastern half of the country. We’re more likely than not to have at least a couple more nights below freezing before we’re frost free. When Nature gives us more than we can protect them from, and she will do that repeatedly during your growing years, it stings. But it also makes the successful crops all the more appreciated. I’m saying this as much for myself as for anyone else, since I’ve already had some apple blooms starting at the end of December which, of course, did not take well to January lows. :smile: Now I’m still working on convincing myself that if the fruiting trees wind up losing everything to freezes this year because of all that early winter warmth, then they will not have to expend resources maturing the lost fruit. So, they will be able to use those resources for growth to provide more bountiful future crops. Plus, if the fruit pests lack food for the year, there may be many fewer of them next year. Que sera, sera.

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We had a low move thru in the last few days. Saw 25 degrees this morning…our earliest peach varieties are in partial bloom. Not real happy. Tho honestly something like this usually happens to those earliest types and they still manage to set WAY too much fruit. Or thats what im trying to tell myself…

Supposed to be in the 80’s by middle of next week.

Sounds like ‘rollercoaster temp time’! It will be fine.:cherries:

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If anyone else said that id blow it off as pure poppycock. But when @mrsg47 says it, I somehow believe it! Thank you im sure it will be. There is something about this time of year before spring that brings on the fussing in me.


It was in the 30’s two days ago here, today its pouring rain and in the 50’s. We had no winter this year. One snowfall. Thats it! and Punxatawny Phil didn’t see his shadow. Early spring (yep its gonna be hot and cold!).

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Thanks Muddy for the repost, I had intended to buy some KDL for this spring after reading the thread last year and forgot about it. My overhead irrigation mentioned in the old thread appeared to do nothing but increase my water bill, still had around 80% crop loss. My battle plan for spring freezes for this year is possibly a KDL spray and to burn wood in large metal barrels placed close to the preach trees. I have unlimited free fire wood and found a place to get some large barrels.

As Tony says a cover plus heat source inside will save your fruit. But unless the flowers are open they’ll take more cold than you think. I’ve found the MSU frost charts pretty accurate. Haven’t checked the Clemson one.

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I had a problem with my potted blueberries in the garage. They started growing and budding with the warm spell. The garage is too warm for them too. The figs and currants seem fine, even a tart cherry tree in a container is dormant, but the blueberries starting budding and even growing. So I hauled them outside. I doubt I will get any fruit on them now. Next year I’m going to put them in an unheated shed, it’s colder in there, and they should not break dormancy. The garage is just too warm. It also frees up room for more figs! :heart_eyes:
Sweetcrisp and Indigocrisp may die in the shed, but it’s the only way to do it. If they do, they are just not suited for growing here. Southmoon, Legacy and Cara’s Choice are more adapted to here and could even go into the ground. Pots will crack outside and they lack protection from the warm ground. The shed isn’t much better, but the pots won’t crack! If I could just plant them in the ground I would, i do not have the room. The best option would be an unheated greenhouse, they could break dormancy early with no consequences.

58 degrees here in Newport yesterday. 8" of heavy white snow today. So glad I didn’t cut my scions yet or receive any (Yet). This is definitely not grafting or pruning weather. Its a mess here. Wheels spinning, ice and the ‘song of the snowplow’ humming in the background.