Solar activity - Why we may have to adjust growing habits

The only constant to Kentucky weather is volatility and unpredictability. We had 40* and 90* highs in the same week. Maybe decreased solar output will make the grass grow​ slower. I hate mowing!

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Yup !!! Here . And in…

and …

The above are are out of the ordinary events in comparison to the last 40-60 years.

So some areas are hotter and some colder… hence the two bucket example.

All I know that this is my second year of no plums/aprium/pluots (except a very marginal Santa Rosa crop). Luckily my peaches/nects threaded the needle this year.:cry::sob:



I’ve gardened a long time and if you are not prepared for the predictable unseasonableness of weather, shame on you. Out-of-the-ordinary weather is the norm. You gotta have strategies in place whether it is protecting your peppers from sunburn or your tomatoes/fruit from frost. Weather happens.


Yeah the high water levels is messing me up. I can’t bring my car to my cottage on the caravan this year because the high water is making it impossible to unload the cars on the island. The boat is too high up. Only pick up trucks and high SUV’s can make it. I have a van. Oh well, I haul everything by hand. Including shingles for my roof! Argh! The freighter’s are happy they can load to maximum.
Temps have been below normal a long time around here, over a year. We are at last hitting the 70’s here. I had a fire last night at my cottage, it was in the 50’s. My only heat up there is a wood stove. Works great! A new modern one with high efficiency. The low tonight is 53F. Not exactly June weather. Just like last year too. We are double digit below normal. Next week a warm up is expected. Good I’m usually swimming by now but the water has yet to hit 60F.

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I met a distant cousin last week for lunch at a waterfront restaurant on the Potomac River, Washington D.C.
Just in the last couple of years they installed huge, movable flood gates to protect all the restaurants and shops from now- frequent flooding. I lived in DC for thirty some years and never saw anything like this. Same flooding happening in Annapolis, Md and Alexandria, Va. Va. folks are studying Dutch flood control systems- they are state of the art.



Peppers, tomato’s sure. But how do we protect against blooming followed by weather that is too cold and wet for the polinators to come out. My Toka plum tree was a solid wall of flowers. I counted six ( yup 6) plums on the whole tree. And they are supposed to be zone 4 Hardy. I guess it’s not how cold you make them but how/when you make them cold.

But thank G-d for the peaches.

BY THE WAY BELOW ARE:. … First leaf on the left … third leaf on the right and first scaffold in the center



You are so right about it not being always about how cold but when. I have a Toka in my zone 2 yard, and it lived the winter just fine, no dieback , it was full of blossoms and I do believe it has set some plums. In my area the plums do not wake up until late so they do not suffer the waffling warm/cold temperatures. Go figure, my zone 4 plum set fruit and my zone 2 grape right near it had lots of dieback. :confused:

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The U.S. is only 1.84% of the earth’s surface.

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Oh beautiful picture Mike .What treasures you’re holding.

Your post got me thinking. As a gardener, most things I crop do not need pollinators - potatoes, carrots, swt potatoes, beets, yacon, cabbage, cauliflower, romanesco, brussels sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi, garlic, onions, asparagus, celery, pak choi,lettuce, chard and tomatoes and peppers are self pollinating so I haven’t thought much about pollination until I more recently got some fruit trees. Actually I’ve grown elderberry many years - but it blooms late. So cukes and (new to me) watermelon are it.

I thought cold hardiness referred to the temps the tree could endure, and pollinators are a separate issue. Anyway, my point was about the ability of man to ‘fire and adjust’. If the weather is determined to be unfavorable to pollination I’d do it myself (my point above is that it never was a problem for me but now it IS on the calendar)
So my ‘fire and adjust’ strategies are for this next season: paint trunks white to possibly delay bloom, have ammonia spray or other frost protection ready, subtract 8 points from the weatherman’s overnight low predictions in the spring, esp if it was a sunny blue sky day before. If I don’t do these sensible things, shame on me.


I agree local weather tells us nothing. I would say the sun is everything though. Also the change in the Axis angle caused by that earthquake in Japan also is a major influence. Overall we have not been warming, not for 20 years. At least according to NASA satellite data. So I suspect with this lull we will see some dramatic changes. The last time the sun had this low of sun spot activity we had a mini ice age for about 70 years.So this is a very big deal.

Richard Harrison of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire told the BBC.
‘I’ve been a solar physicist for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this.’
He says the phenomenon could lead to colder winters similar to those during the Maunder Minimum.'There were cold winters, almost a mini ice age.
‘You had a period when the River Thames froze.’

Professor Valentina Zharkova disclosed at the National Astronomy Meeting that a mini ice age may soon be upon earth. The scientists claim that their research has a 97 percent accuracy rate and that the mini ice age will result from something called the Maunder minimum effect.

These are real scientists, not guys with useless Bachelor’s degrees in climate science.

The good news is full affects of this will not happen till 2030. Grow’em if you got’em! While you can!

I mentioned all this over 5 years ago, but too many want to make it colder, which is crazy! Burn a tire, save a tree!


I am growing Carmine Jewel in 7a… I figure it is a safe bet.


Telegraphic summary: always grow things that have a climate range such that your zone is right in the middle of it.
If you are in Zone 6, stuff listed as Zone 5-7, or 4-8, is what you want.

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But not unique in the world. I am sure that there are other parts of the globe that have had a hotter, dryer or colder wetter weather season.

The above notwithstanding and without getting into any type of “long term climate change” conversation, what I am noting is that:

  1. there are indications that the current solar weather (climate) may indicate a period of lower temps ( not necessarily long term global “cooling” or “warming” ) like we had in the 1970’s.
  2. that this period may last for a non-geologically significant period of time as measured by our own fruit growing lives.
  3. that we may have to take steps to adjust our methodology in growing fruits, especially those of us who are in areas like the northeast. Here in the Northeast, regardless of the zone hardiness of the variety, we are dealing with very narrow windows of time during which it does not take much of a swing in temperature to wipe out a whole crop. These swings can: kill the dormant buds, semi-dormant buds, swelling buds, open flowers, or once the flowers are open, cold weather that keeps the polinators at bay.

Any weather changes that indicate even a relatively short period “trend” are things that we need to take into account in our orchards.



Mike, what I’m saying is that the current ebb in the solar cycle might be offset by increased heat retention in our atmosphere. Further, climatologists consider the recent increased volatility in the weather as a result of overall higher concentrations of CO2.

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Got it.


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Thanks for sharing this, Mike.

Considering the Eastern US is a typically erratic spring weather climate (unlike the evolutionary homeland of most temperate fruit trees), and likely just getting more erratic, the natives that bloom later will likely always be a surer bet. I love apples and pears and stonefruit, but more and more I realize the value of persimmons, pawpaws, aronia, elderberry, chestnut, hybrid hazels, etc.



Erratic makes life interesting if not always pleasant.

So as soon as we can get a persimmon tree that grows fruit that tastes like an Ashmeads Kernel apple or an Orange Red apricot etc. my problem will be solved​:grinning::grinning::grinning::grinning:



The old Chinese curse: ‘May you live in interesting times’ changes to ‘May you live in erratic times’?:grinning:


One thing I’ve noticed is that in addition to the difficulties of growing fruit in more erratic weather patterns (cold when it’s supposed to be warm, and warm when it’s supposed to be cold) earlier springs here the last few years make it difficult to grow flavorful early peaches.

In past threads, I’ve mentioned how several early varieties of peaches don’t taste good here. I’ve always thought it was the heavy spring rains affecting them. I still believe that but also wonder if the early varieties are more negatively affected by less overall sunlight from unusually early springs.

Most fruit development occurs based on degree days, not the amount of sunlight (although I think sunlight has some impact). Early springs mean shorter days during fruit development and cloudier days here because of spring rains. All of this means less sunlight during the critical fruit development phases. I think this can make for lower brix fruit.

I don’t know how this affect would compare at other latitudes, and it’s all a hypothesis anyway. Farther north, the day length increases more rapidly in the spring, so sunlight ramps up more quickly. The farther south you go, the day length increases slower, but the days are longer early on, vs. northern climates.

All I’m saying is that I would rather have late starting springs because of more daylight. My latest peach bloom occurred on 4-15 one year. This year it occurred on 3-7, more than an month earlier. These peaches are ripening very early for our area and have missed out on a lot of cumulative sunlight, had they bloomed a month later.


That’s not a significantly different translation, actually. That’s definitely the sense of the word interesting that they are using!

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