Frost and Fruit…
From MU Extension Horticulture Specialist and FMO Board Member, Patrick Byers
The Ozarks experienced two cold nights this week, with the temperatures dipping into the mid 20’s on Monday night, with warmer (though still cold) temperatures on Tuesday. Frosts such as this can damage or destroy the flowers on fruit trees, berries, and grapes. The extent of crop loss depends on the temperature, the duration of the cold, and the stage of growth. Peaches will be impacted most by the frost. Prior to the frosts, orchardists reported a light bloom, due to blossom loss during December and February cold, and those flowers that did survive were open and vulnerable to frost. I examined a large number of flowers today, and noted around 50% death from the frost. Certain cultivars may still produce a crop, but it will be a light peach cropping year for southwest Missouri. Apples fared better, as the flowers were less advanced and a proportion appears to have survived the frosts. The same can be said for blueberries. Strawberries were in bloom, and most commercial growers protected the plants with row covers. Any damage will take another day or two to become evident. Grape damage will likewise take a few days more to become visible.
Market Manager Lane McConnell has spoken to a few of the FMO fruit vendors and here is the report:
Sunshine Valley Farm- No peaches or nectarines this year
Roberson Orchard- Lost a few varieties of peaches, but will still have lots of peaches.
A & A Orchard- Apples and Peaches look good