So much winter damage this year. Others too?

In the13-14 years I’ve been growing fruit, I’ve never had so much damage, and I really don’t understand why. Wondering if others, especially here in the southeast (I’m TN/KY area) are seeing similar.

When I say damage, I mean severe damage- not just the loss of fruit buds. For the first time EVER it looks like some of my figs not only froze to the ground (that happens every few years) but were outright killed. About half of my peach trees have massive amounts of dead wood…they’ve been leafed out over a month now so its easy to spot all the big limbs that have no growth at all. It is so bad here that all the shubs where I work got killed, and if you drive around my town you see dead shrubs, bushes, and trees EVERYWHERE.

With all this damage, you would think we had some kind of horrifying winter, but we really didn’t! We had exactly 2 days that were right around -5 to -6 degrees back in January. That isn’t even record breaking temps for us (though very rare) and I know many of you see temps WAY below that. Aside from those 2 days, I don’t think we got below 8 degrees any other day and very rarely got below 15, Also, its not like those two -5 or -6 days happened before or after trees went to sleep or woke up! January is pretty much the dead of winter for us, so you’d think that would be the safest time to hit low temps. Those days also weren’t preceded by warm days. In other words, none of the things I would expect to cause such severe damage seemed to have happened. I’m even wondering if it was freeze or if some new insect or disease or something caused all this…but considering it involves so many different species of plants that seems doubtful.

I just don’t know. I’ve been meaning to bring this up for a month and ask if anyone else is seeing an unusually high number of woody plant deaths this spring, and if so why, and if not what happened here? Doubtful anyone knows, but I’m so curious that I had to report this and ask about it! Thanks.



Lost a few nanking cherries myself and had friends with orchards lose a few things here and there. Some come back from the roots, and some didn’t. Strange weather events the last few years.

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There are many articles of crop devastation in the Ag news – the rain that didn’t come for the wheat and the spring cold snap that killed the fruit crops.


how fast did it get cold last fall? we had an early freeze with no transitional autumn weather. you can see top damage on every tree here , inland pnw


The flash freeze event on December 23 was the killer. Temps plummeted 50 degrees in 8-10 hours, down to -3F to -5F in the Nashville area and stayed in single digits for a couple of days. This was preceded by 2-3 weeks of mild weather. Most things also had fulfilled chill requirements, so lots of plants were losing dormancy.

My old kiwi orchard north of Nashville had several ~15-20 year old A. chinensis vines that had never shown any winter injuries before. All were killed to the ground. Hardy kiwi were fine. These had seen -4F to -5F a few times without issues.

There must be thousands of dead or damaged boxwoods around. Many mature trees also suffered major damage, especially sycamores. Definitely a good test winter for weeding out the weak.


I don’t see much damage in SW VA. It could be that late Dec polar vortex. Glancing at historical charts, it seems TN was warmer than VA in the preceding weeks to this polar vortex. If the polar vortex hit non-dormant plants, I would think the plants simply didn’t enter dormancy due to mild weather, rather than being tricked out of dormancy.

I lost 2 very promising cherries that were vigorous and healthy. A Redlac and a Utah Giant.
I also have quite a bit a blind wood on most of the peaches.
My 2 oldest peaches had almost all fruit buds killed this winter, while the younger trees will produce small crops. Very strange.



Nearly everyone in Kansas had some damage. @39thparallel @Olpea @randyks likely had some as well. Sorry to read about your damage.

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Asheville NC reporting in with damage as well. Lots of dead branches on bushes that would have otherwise been totally fine. Many of my trees are taking ages to wake up compared to years prior (my mulberry is only just starting to get it’s first few large leaves).

Hope this winter is a bit kinder!

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This has been a terrible year for frost damage for me, although I’ve only been growing fruit trees for a few years. I’m about 250 miles SE of @thecityman in GA. There was one really cold day in winter, but the real problem was the early spring. Everything started waking up in the last week of February, and near the end of March, there were a couple overnight freezes. Not bad – upper 20s – but it was enough. Many of my kaki saplings took such severe damage that I didn’t know if they would make it. They all sprouted back above the graft, but several, including a Saijo, lost all of their branches and will basically lose a year of growth.

Even the jujubes, which are normally cautious about leafing out, got zapped. They all recovered much more quickly than the persimmons, except for Autumn Beauty, which only just started pushing new buds from the trunk last week, and lost all of its branches. (Granted, it was just a little tree.)

The worst (and most mysterious) casualties were among my pawpaws, which up until this year, appeared indestructible, if slow-growing. All of them had started to leaf (and many, for the first time, set flowers) and they all appeared to have taken no damage from the overnight freezes. However, more than a week after the freeze, two Susquehannas, two Shenandoahs, a Wabash, a Tallahatchie, and a couple of others dropped all their leaves. I did a bark test and most these are now dead above the graft, and the few that still have greenish cambium are showing no signs of pushing new buds. The dead ones are sprouting from the roots. It seems really odd, like their sudden decline might not have been due to the freeze, but I can’t see any other evidence of damage to the trees. Meanwhile, the rest of the pawpaws look splendid, with no evidence of any damage from the freeze.

My mulberries took a hit, but bounced back quickly, and Silk Hope has fruit. A walnut tree lost all its foliage and a couple limbs, but seems to have recovered and has already more than replaced its losses. My pecans had some damaged buds and are quite a bit behind where they were last year at this time, but seem okay.

At the time of the freeze, my pears, both Asian and European, had almost fully leafed out and some were sporting blossoms. They appear to have been totally unfazed by the freeze, without even the slightest detectable damage even though some of them were right next to other species that got totally wrecked. I even have my first pears coming, indicating that at least some of the blossoms were undamaged. This surprised me.

The chestnut saplings were wise and declined the invitation to the early spring. (This is interesting, because we always have late freezes here and the young chestnuts are usually among the trees that get damaged the most.) They’re doing great (well, ignoring the fact that during the winter, deer broke through their cages and munched two almost to the ground) and are putting on a lot of growth.

The blueberries lost a lot of blossoms, but still set some fruit. The blackberries (mostly Arkansas thornless uprights) had fortunately not flowered yet. They took only minor damage and a big crop is starting to ripen. The muscadines are evidently adapted to Georgia and remained dormant until spring was here for real.

All in all, the relatively mild light late freezes this year wrought more damage on my orchard than in any preceding years so far, which is quite surprising (and a little discouraging) to me. I guess it’s likely because we had such a long and extended pump-fake spring.

Edit: Oh yeah, like @thecityman , one of my fig trees was totally destroyed, roots and all.

I had more blackberry cane dieback than the last 5+ years but that’s about all. Everything else appears to have came through fairly well.

The temp hit -1F on 12/24, probably the first time we’d seen negatives since 2015. But then look at our February temps:

A range of 40F to 78F on 2/22/2023.

Yeah I think this was it. My figs woke up way too early and there was nothing I could do about it, lost literally all my breba off my 20-ish fig trees :cry:. Everything else starting waking up too early, then got smashed by cold temps.

That’s weird, fruit trees leafed out to the tips, have small apricot, aprium, pear, peach fruit when often I don’t. Only unusual dead stems are on a Carolina Silverbell…


Like others in the southeast, I have blackberries that were killed to the ground. Ponca and Caddo were both affected though a couple of Caddo made it and are currently producing not yet mature fruit. There are dozens of root sprouts coming up all around the plants that died. The main crown has heavy sprouting and roots up to 10 feet away from Ponca have produced new plants. The blackberries were affected by the December 22nd & 23rd hard freeze down to zero F.

I’ve seen several pear trees in this area that do not have fruit this year. The blossoms were affected by a freeze in March. The trees produced blooms but they died and shriveled up with no fruit produced.


I have a lot of dead plants but I question what actually killed them too. I had a apple tree die but it had leaf discoloration last fall so that could have killed it, I had a black gold cherry die but it kept suckering last year with little growth so it is possible something was wrong with it before, both my Comice that died had no root system, my persimmon that died never had a root system either, my sweetheart apricot lost it’s leaves and had no root system. In fact that seemed to be a trend where every tree that died did not have a root system despite them being planted for a year to a half a year. I technically had a southern giant pecan but that is only rated to zone 6 and I read borderline zone 7 and that did not make it through the winter but that was an experiment. The reason I question what killed them is I have a necta zee nectaplum and it has survived but stuff that is supposed to be hardy to my zone did not.

Yes, instant transition from late summer to winter hell last winter. October was unusually warm then January weather set in at the beginning of November. No time for trees to drop their leaves, they just froze on the trees. Early snow on fully leafed trees broke branches and provided disease entry pathways. I didn’t do a fall spray… Six months of hard winter this year. Negative 10 for a low - not too bad… It let up a little in January - thankfully. Still lots of winter damage.

I lost my 2-year old Spark’s Mammoth graft - I was zone pushing a bit on that one…

I lost my Emerald Beaut graft - well established 1" diameter branch.

Indian Free and Rio Oso Gem are now battling canker… Those two are in the shadiest locations.

Everything that made it through was rewarded with an unusually quick transition from winter back to summer like weather in late April - very odd for this part of the world. We had warm dry weather for most of the bloom period - that never happens. Fruit set is better than ever. More need for thinning than ever before…

It’s been a crazy year.

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Winter hardiness is not just maximum temperature but the ebb and flow of the temperature throughout the season, and how smart the trees are about it. For instance most trees who are hardened to say -10f and spend a few weeks at 20f will, over the warmer days, shed that -10f hardiness. I wish I could find the study on how many degrees of hardiness it sheds over x number of days at y temperature but I can’t find it. the opposite is true; in order to harden to -10f again it can take them a few days to adjust.

I am a zone pusher like everybody else but the core of my trees and bushes are hardy well past my zone, and are specifically selected for their ability not to shed hardiness as readily. Here in my neck of the woods in Alaska we usually get a January meltdown, temperatures hitting 50f for a week, which can be followed to 0f the next. Any trees dumb enough to wake up even a little just up and dies.

I always in awe at the native birch trees. In late September when my apple trees are in full green and ripening apples they are already shedding all their leaves. It may be an overkill but they never get caught unprepared, they seem to tune their seasonal changes to the light and not the temperature.


every single tree near me has damaged branch tips at least from the early freeze

my plum tree barely bloomed this year and my lilacs not at all. the tips froze back! it’s been really strange too in that early things are late and late things are early. every plant in Spokane is confused

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Kevin . . . ditto. Lost a fig. Have a lot of damage and signs of early problems.
Lost lots of my perennial flowers, too - that have always made it through winter with no problems
I did feel that it was a loooooong cold winter. Very wet, too.
It’s still much cooler this May, than any I can remember. Had to wear a jacket yesterday.
Very unusual weather.
That said . . . I didn’t get in my early sprays. Too busy with other stuff. AND it seemed so cold!
So it is probably a combination of causes.

Thanks Karen. Good to know I’m not alone. I guess this was a harder winter than I thought…I just didn’t have many brutal cold days (ie sub 0), But I guess 48 hours of -3 to -6 in an area that rarely gets below 10 degrees is more devastating than I expected it to be.