Prunus buds hardiest to spring hard freeze?

I continue to try to assess damage from 17degreesF. at half inch green on apples and tight cluster on pears compared to plums, cherries and the few peach blossoms to survive winter here.

I’'m seeing reddish brown in most of the apple flower buds and they’ve really stopped growing normally, but peach, plum, cherry and nectarine blossoms look normal and are swarming with pollinators.

Some pear blossoms seem to have frozen pistils and ovaries but not to the level of apples.

I would have assumed that apple blossoms would be as tough as anything but now it looks like most of my crop is wiped out.

Most J. plums varieties seem to have lost most flower buds from late winter lows (we got a double whammy of winter and spring extremes surrounded by unusual mildness) but every Shiro in my orchard and nursery have full show that is attracting pollinators like crazy. E. plums are all showing great bloom as are cherries and the buzz is all over any open flowers.

The pictures I’ve seen of destroyed, dissected apple buds show a much darker brown than I’m seeing on my apples 2 weeks after the freeze, but it sure looks like lethal damage even if it is a more reddish hue.


Sorry to hear about all your damage. I have also been trying to figure out whats going on since I lost most of my cots this year. U Colorado has an interesting sheet on freeze damage:

They have an interesting way to cut apples open as a cross-section. In all the pictures there is some inner part, maybe just the pistil, that is completely brown and dead. I’m not sure if red is anything bad.

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The wind was knocked out of my sails when I lost most of my peach and especially my nectarine crop- I will likely have access to plenty of apples if better situated orchards I manage come through. I’d rather have plums than apples from my own trees and the E’s do look promising.

I guess the thing to do is just watch what happens and all will be revealed in time. Looking at your photos the flowers I was thinking may well be damaged probably are.


I know this isn’t much help in your current situation but you my want to try Lydecker/Black Ice Plum (P. salicina x P. besseyi). While about 1/3 or so of the flower buds got toasted here there are still many that survived on my tree. Toka didn’t have much this year to pollinate it but at least this year they are overlapping unlike last. Pic of Black Ice attached from today with Toka in the background to the right of it.

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While most of my J. plums failed one way (winter cold) or another (spring freeze) the Euros look excellent and I like them as much or more. Also, I have a really big Shiro capable of producing much more fruit than I can use that looks to be in great shape for production this season.

What I need is hardier peaches.

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Please don’t tell me anymore about the peaches, when I said that I was a junior member of your spring freeze club I should have kept my mouth shout! Later that week or the one after we got a 19-20F night that ended up toasting 80 to 90% of my Redhaven buds on a four year old tree. I don’t have to worry about thinning this year. Will get some peaches but not much. Rudolph racked my Elberta that I planted last year and in the fall now looks like the tree is totaled and isn’t going to make it, the leaf buds were green and now they are turning all brown. Indian Free that I planted last year I had to prune back hard because of lack of root structure has 3 or 4 live buds this spring and currently one flower.

As far as Euro plums go…this year I finally have a massive amount of blooms coming on my Big Blue plum from Millers that I planted back in 2012…if that is what it is! I had two or three flowers last year and got nothing. I just hope that it is what it is suppose to be and not the bad purple bad plum that you got years back from them when you ordered Green Gage from them. Time will tell…

I have to revise this post because I just went outside onto my back deck which is high up. It appears that most of the buds on my Redhaven that got toasted at a 80-90% rate are from the ground up to around 6 or 7 feet. I was originally posting from a view standing on the ground. The tree from this level up (6 to 7 feet) to the top which is around 13 to15 feet from the ground has many flowers coming into bloom!

I hope you get the flowers to harvest- your deserve it.

2 to 3 year old peach trees: Redhaven and Madison have a few flowers that are somewhat / barely opening but are mostly brown with a little bit of pink. Doesn’t look good. Veteran seems to have 80% pink flowers, looks good, time will tell. Indian Free has maybe 40% pink blossoms, looks decent. 4-in-1 curl resistant peach (Frost, Avalon, Mary Jane, Salish Summer) 100% brown, dried, no blossoms.

2 to 4 year old Euro plums have small amount of blossoms for the first time. President and Blue Byrd especially seemed to be blossoming well. Purple Gage, Rosy Gage, Early Laxton, Cambridge Gage all have some good blossoms. Not a lot since none have ever blossomed for me before. I have 3 Jefferson trees that have been unusually vigorous. I pruned them really hard late winter. They blossomed 2 weeks before all this cold hit. They were covered in blossoms and bees but now everything is toast. I wonder if they bloomed so early because I pruned them too hard.

2 year old Hybrid plums: Gracious and La Crescent seem to have decent blossoms. Superior and Kaga were a little earlier and got hit a bit by the cold. They might have a chance, but I’m not counting on it.

2 year old Au Rosa had some blossoms but they got zapped. Early Golden didn’t have any.

As far as other stuff goes, asian pears look like they will blossom in a few days. Haskaps look good. I haven’t noticed much one way or the other from my apples or tart cherries.

I’d be happy if I got some Veteran peaches, some of the euros and a few of the hybrid plums.

Every year I plan on putting in a Shiro but haven’t done it. I think I will next year, and maybe another Veteran peach if mine ends up producing anything.

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My Saturn did very poorly and it was because of winter temps, not spring. The tree probably has about 15 flowers. It was loaded with fruit buds going into winter. My low at the airport was -12F…and we had a few nights of -10F. The tree is located against a south facing wall so maybe that doesn’t help (a lot of reflection going on)…although its not exposed to the strong/dry north winds.

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Tom, those peach buds look good to me. How cold did it get there this winter? You can dissect one and see if there’s browning of the ovary- that will be the clincher.

I’ll have to check what are low was but I don’t think we actually got to double digits. I think maybe -6.

I just checked It says our low was only -2.

Tom, hard pruning can make things bloom a bit earlier. My Jefferson bloomed only a touch earlier than my other Euros. I am excited to get some plums off it, this is the first year the whole tree is lit up with blooms.

Has anyone noticed an impact to the bud survival of chip buds due to the cold weather. It isn’t like I have many candidates to check out, as I have a dismal success rate with budding, but I did notice that at least one of the (nectarine) buds that I thought was a certain take last year appears a bit dry and shriveled.

I cut the limb off at that point just in case (if it doesn’t wake up in a few weeks, I’ll do a cleft graft).

As an aside, I did some apple cleft grafts last August, in addition to the chip grafts. I figured that if I have success with them in the spring (and never have much success with budding), that I should try them in the late summer too…

Initial results are in:
Chip buds: 1 in 12 made it (a couple more appear to have callused over nicely, but the bud looks dead)
Cleft grafts: 3.5 in 6 (I’m not sure about one)

I have had pretty good take this year. A few duds but most made it through. They are all just now pushing. I wonder if some are more apt to dry out like that. I know i have one that i know took, but it has no buds so its just going to do nothing.


Sometimes I get grafted buds which look like that, dead on the top, but alive on the bottom. Sometimes they push growth, sometimes not.

I always get lots of chip failure on peaches. They look fine in the fall but are dead in spring. Its one reason why I don’t do so much chip budding.

I think this has been the best year yet on chip bud takes…

These were all taken today…

Probably about 10 more out there. That double on top will need to be pruned out…

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