So much winter damage this year. Others too?

Just wanted to thank everyone for reporting in. This ended up being an extremely interesting thread that I learned a lot from, and of course its always nice to hear others experiences to compare them to ourselves. Thanks you all.

@kiwinut yours was especially interesting to me because you are so close by and your experiences match my own so much. Also, in my OP I think I said my 2 brutal days were in January but you reminded me that I was mistaken…it was definitely Dec 23 I was talking about. Up here on the KY line we hit about -6. I actually had a flat tire on the interstate driving home to Cookeville for x-mas and between the holiday and the -6 temps, it was impossible to get any service to come out! So yea, Dec 23 was almost certainly what did me in. Mind me asking where- generally- your old kiwi orchard was. You said north of nashville which could put in my neighborhood, so I’m just curious, I’m near Portland.

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That flash freeze was something else! I brought in a bunch of figs, muscadines, szechuan pepper, and other plants from my container nursery for a few nights because I figured they were most vulnerable. This spring, I was amazed at how many pawpaw, persimmon, jujube, grapes, and mulberries I lost in the nursery. A bunch of them even showed green when I did a scratch test, but died soon after leafing out. I even lost a third of my hardy kiwis in containers.

My in-ground plants fared better. But I still lost a mulberry, crabapple, che fruit, my largest gooseberry, etc. All of my figs were killed to the ground. They are all pushing up shoots now. But some are only pushing up one or just a few sickly looking shoots. My largest, and best producing fig (at least 200 figs last year) just started pushing up its only shoot this past week!

All of my brambles made it. But I lost a lot of floricanes on my Prime Ark Freedoms, Triple Crown, and Niwots. The Heritage raspberries and Ponca blackberries came through in the best shape.

And, I’m still seeing what I believe are some delayed effects, with my largest honeyjar jujube and a 4 year old Mango pawpaw wilting, dropping leaves, and dying over the last two weeks…

The spring freezes were timed just perfectly to kill of all of my plum flowers and most of my peaches (I’m not going to complain about not having to thin peaches though!).

On the upside, I’ve got more persimmon and hardy kiwi blooms than I’ve ever had. And the apples and grapes appear to at least match last year’s output. And the blueberries, currants, goumi, gooseberries (other than pixwell), and surpringly, the muscadines don’t appear to have been impacted at all!

I’m happy that most plants are still alive and healthy. But some of the losses hurt!


Misery loves company. I had 18 figs die back to the ground. Several poms down. Two fuzzy kiwi dead. And a substantial crop loss on many trees. All of that from a mild easy winter that hardly went below freezing.

Here in Maryland it was colder in the weeks proceeding that cold snap, and didn’t get as cold during it. We got as cold as just +3°. It had also been below average for them several weeks prior.

We didn’t really have any damage to speak of although I did have some rosemary get damaged.

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There is your answer, I think. It is all about context- what the state of the trees was when the cold came. We were heading for an early spring after a mild first half of winter and the trees had too much water in their cells, they were not fully hardened off like they would be during a “real” winter.

It has long been known that certain species and varieties can survive much colder temps in parts of the world where winter temps don’t fluctuate much- winter is winter and spring is spring.

Fruit growing is becoming increasingly challenging as weather becomes more erratic. Some species just can’t figure out when to wake up.

I have sites somewhat better located than my own where all the peach buds were killed while I have a good crop of peaches and nectarines developing. The single night we got down to -7 was windy and the cold was distributed widely and probably relatively evenly- my trees being almost at the base of a hollow wasn’t a liability, it apparently was a blessing. Because my site was generally a bit colder the trees were harder. On the better drained and highest part of my land the nectarines were frozen out.

My earliest peach in orchards I manage is Flavor May. That variety was especially affected by winter cambium kill, one of my two trees was almost killed and I see a lot of damage to trees elsewhere as well as another dead one. Presumably its early flowering and fruiting makes it more vulnerable to winter kill.


My 2nd robada to die. Flowered beautifully and now poof. Dead.
Gonna cut into trunk and lookfor borers

Looked back over my notes/journal mainly for temperature related observations:

02/17 - Noticed leaves starting on a seedling peach tree.
02/22 - Blueberries showing movement, cherries slightly, pink showing on multiple peach trees. High of 78 today…
03/01 - March in like a lamb, 75.6F today… Snipped off the ends of some apple tree branches which had been eaten/mangled by deer. MOST trees have been nibbled on by them, sigh.
03/08 - Low of 28.2, 8 hours below freezing.
03/14 - Low of 28, 12+ hours at or below freezing.
03/15 - Low of 20, 12+ hours at or below freezing.
03/16 - Low of 23, 12 hours at or below freezing.
03/19 - Low of 23, 12 hours at or below freezing. Peaches have been at full bloom, one plum tree a foot tall had a single bloom, blueberries close to opening, cherries a bit behind… barely seeing a tiny bit of white on a few bloom tips. “Horse” at half inch green, quite a few others silver tip.
03/20 - Low of 15, 17 hours at or below freezing. The big kill…
03/21 - Low of 21, 12.5 hours at or below freezing.
03/24 - Warm yesterday and today, apple buds busting out like crazy. Many at half inch green seemingly overnight. A few new peach blooms have happened, after the last big freeze, so maybe…

So yeah, if only winter and spring could learn to stay in their own sandboxes.

[Notes kept on, been doing so for the past few years. Nice to be able to look back and/or search for specific words/events.]

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Only things I’ve noticed winter damage on, here, are blackberries and my NB-21(Sestronka) persimmon. Blackberries significantly knocked back, almost to the ground, and the persimmon has tip die-back 10-12" on all of last year’s twigs.
Pear crop will be significantly reduced from frosts/ freezes during and after bloom.

My Honeycrisp apple tree has no apples. My Gravenstein apple tree has plenty.

Chiggers and ticks seem especially bad this year. I have 5 chigger bites just from walking across my lawn.

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Whites Creek- Joelton area. It was often 5 to 10 degrees colder there than Nashville. The orchard area is up on a terrace well above the valley floor, but cold air drained off the nearby escarpment, so spring frosts were a big issue.

Funny enough my potted rosemary died too. It survived 2 previous winters.


I don’t know if you saw it, but in another thread I mentioned I talked to an chem supplier in KY (for specialty crops). He said the Dec. freeze significantly wiped out peach flower buds, then the late very hard freeze in March finished them off for peach growers in his area.

This was probably our worst year ever in terms of damage. The sudden drop in Dec. killed a lot of fruit buds. Then we had a very late hard freeze (I believe on April 23). We also lost almost 100 peach trees (out of 650). Mostly 2 to 3 year trees.

The loss was compounded because we pruned before the drastic freeze event of Dec. 23. Of course pruning peach trees that late in the year is not ideal, but labor to get it all done in the spring is a problem. We’ve pruned late many times before.

This year the consequences were drastic. I doubt we would have lost the trees, had we not pruned so late. Trees will not be pruned that late going forward. If we can’t get them all pruned, earlier in the year, then I guess they just won’t get pruned.



Very sorry to read about all the losses. Many people lost some cherry bushes and other things this year.


If there is a silver lining as relates to blackberries… Mine which had floricanes die back completely, but not the entire plant. Thew new primocanes are growing like crazy. Don’t know that I’ve ever had any reach the 7’ point in May before I had noticed. That one and a number of others at the 4’ or 5’ point I went ahead tipped. Also don’t believe I’ve ever done that in May before…

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One of the cider apples I selected to trial here was Franklin cider apple, on account that in 2018 a late freeze wiped off most apple production in upstate NY but the franklin simply did not mind.

Just about all the haskaps I have have a lot of Russian stock breeded into them for hardiness. More than once I have seen snow covering the blooms, not a care in the world.

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So sorry to hear this, Mark. I thought you only lost the fruit, not the trees. This is worse than I thought.


@thecityman Kevin,
I remember reading the news about freezing temperature heading toward TN and nearby states more than once in late winter and early spring. I thought to myself, that temp was colder than what we had here in New England at that same time.

Sorry for all the damage to fruit trees that people in your area sustained.

I only lost a persimmon tree and a Japanese maple tree. The persimmon tree was 8 years old and the Japanese maple was 14-15 years old.


so sorry to hear of your losses @olpea. That is really hard.
I did not lose any peach trees (lost 2 cherry), but have a lot of blind wood/dead areas on most of the trees. I didn’t fall prune the younger trees, but pruned 5 year old trees very late in the fall… Sept I think it was. They made it through the winter but had all but a couple fruit buds killed. Lots of dead areas in those.

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WOW! I didn’t know any of that. Very Sorry to hear that.

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