1. Ice Swimmer says

    All the snow that came hasn’t melted yet here, only the most sunny places. Not that it’s even sunny anymore.

  2. kestrel says

    Oh dear. We’re getting that today: spring snowstorm. In our case it means no pears this year. Again.

    We’re happy about the snow, though: it brings the fire danger down, and it makes the grass grow.

  3. rq says

    No pears? Losing the leaf buds, or something else? I can’t say we’ve seen a change in fruit yield due to these spring snowstorms -- if anything, the past couple of years have been exceptionally good (currently attributed to improved pruning practices).

  4. kestrel says

    @rq: yes, the pear tree has injudiciously bloomed… and now we’ll experience a pretty hard freeze tonight (down to 20F, -6 or -7C) and that will effectively kill the flowers. So no fruit. :-( Again. The pear tree is well-known for doing this. Fortunately, the apples, plums and cherries are not blossoming yet, so there is still hope for something in the orchard.

  5. rq says

    Poor injudicious pear tree, when will it ever learn?
    That’s a bit curious, though, as pears here tend to bloom a bit later than apple trees -- cherry, plum and apple, then pear. I hope none of the other trees make such injudicious choices, and wait until the threat of frost is diminished!

  6. kestrel says

    LOL! Apparently, it will never learn. :-D

    Wow, that’s great that your pear trees wait like that. Here, the peaches, apricots and pears all bloom first, then cherries, then plums, then apples. Interesting how it’s so different! I wonder if it’s the variety, or just because it’s a different continent/climate? Anyway, lucky you, there will be pears for you!

  7. rq says

    Peaches and apricots don’t flower at all here -- that I know of. Maybe in recent years people are trying out different fruit varieties (i.e. moving away from tradition), but I think the climate is wrong for those two. :( The Russian almond blooms, but its fruit is apparently super-delicate, because both years that I’ve noticed the green fruit babies, they’ve all dropped off by the time they’re ripe (usually after a couple heavy rainfalls). Could be birds, too, though.

    I think the pears are just a different variety, a lot of cultivars get re-adjusted locally (there’s several experimental farms like that all around the country, some producing famous items like blue potatoes and the great grey pea) and are more available commercially.

  8. says

    Here it today was unseasonably warm -- basically t-shirt time outside -- and in the evening we got a first storm of the year. Only homeopatic one. However such weather should not be here at all at this time of year.

    Some trees in the garden started to pump juice in the buds. I fear that late frost will wreak havoc in the nature around here.

  9. says

    That’s why they’Re called Snowbells!

    One thing farmers do here to protect buds and flowers is to heavily spray them with cold water which will freeze around them and thereby protect them. Sounds counterintuitive but it apparently works.
    You could also hire a helicopter to constantly mix cold and warm air, as the winemakers do, but that’s probably over the top.

  10. rq says

    I don’t know about heavy spraying before a freeze, but I do know misting works. The key is the thin layer of ice, if you spray, it will be ice and might damage tender shoots and buds; if it’s a mist, it’s more likely to develop as crystals, thereby providing a snow-like layer of protection. But that’s the theory, I know we’ve done misting a couple of times.

  11. says

    What I remember from my studies about the spraying/misting issue, the explanation given to us was that as the water changes phase from liquid to solid, it gives of a lot of heat into the environment. And since it cools directly near or even in contact with the plant, it warms it just the needed fraction of a degree for it not to freeze.
    I have never tried it and I lost some apple harvests to late frost. And I am still scratching my head trying to understand how it could actually work.

  12. rq says

    That could be that actual explanation for why it works.
    (You can read about its applications in the novel Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella; the movie doesn’t go nearly enough into the details of properly tending grass.)

  13. lumipuna says

    Seconding Charly on the frost spraying thing.

    Temperate zone plants can usually withstand a couple degrees blow freezing, which is enough to freeze the water on plants, which releases some heat which again prevents the temperature from dropping further. If the water is well localized on sensitive plant parts, the effect is significant but disappears quickly so you have to keep spraying until morning. During the day, there has to be enough natural warmth to melt the ice.

    The heating effect depends on the mass of water used, and how well you can localize it. I think some plants like strawberries could withstand really heavy icing, while a fruit tree might collapse.

  14. lumipuna says

    That should be below freezing, “blow freezing”, sounds something rather more destructive. Maybe just below zero, at the risk of confusion :)

  15. kestrel says

    Well, I don’t have misters and can’t stay out all night using a spray bottle… And yeah, hiring helicopters? :-) It “only” got down to -5C, and everything looks pretty sad this morning. We shall see. I had to run errands yesterday and of course it was not just my pear tree that had bloomed, all the pears I saw had bloomed.

    I think some orchards actually use heaters. I’ve seen them offered for sale before, they seem pretty expensive and then of course there is the fuel costs as well. My “orchard” is pretty modest: one pear, two cherry, 6 apple and 20 plum trees. Not a commercial orchard, just enough I can make some pretty darn good cider and plum liqueur.

  16. lumipuna says

    Commercial orchards use the weirdest tricks to fend off the occasional bloomtime frost. Water spray, smoke, heaters, helicopters and giant ground fans.

    -5C sounds really harsh for when early fruit trees are blooming.

  17. blf says

    -5C sounds really harsh

    The mildly deranged penguin goes Pfffzzzt! and Blosplatgger! at such temperaturism!

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