With the early warm temperatures we experienced this year the Fruit Trees were already beginning to bloom when the temperatures turned cold again. On March 15th the temperature at the Fruit Station dropped to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Critical temperatures for frost damage of fruit trees varies by type of tree and stage of growth. Utah State University Cooperative Extension has a Publication that lists the temperatures and growth stages. It can be found at https://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/factsheet/pub__5191779.pdf.
We received some damage to our peach, pear and plums. Time will tell how much fruit was lost.
Below is a picture of a plum tree that was taken before and after the cold temperatures.
A tree fruit pruning workshop was held at the Fruit Station on Saturday March 18th. Those in attendance received instructions on proper pruning and tool safety as well as some hands on pruning in the demonstration garden in the field. Dr. Martin Kaps, Susanne Howard, Jeremy Emery, Randy Stout and Sheila Long were on hand to demonstrate and assist.
Susanne discussed proper pruning techniques.
Randy and Jeremy discussing proper tools and safety.
Dr. Martin Kaps demonstrated how to prune peaches.
Dr. Martin Kaps discussed how to check peach buds for frost damage.
Randy discussing how to prune Apple trees.
Jeremy demonstrated how to prune Apple trees.
Those in attendance try their hand at pruning the grapes.
Yesterday evening it hailed (at my house various sizes up to golf ball size) and this morning we found a great deal of damage to the plastic of the high tunnel (many holes and totally deflated) as well as some damage to the greenhouses.
We noticed that the Magnolia stellata was blooming last week! It is usually in full bloom around April 1, so it looks like things are developing early at this point. That brings bad memories of the Easter Freeze of 2007 when March was warmer than April and things started to grow ahead of schedule. Early April 2007 saw record cold temps and all fruit crops were lost. This scenario, where March is warmer than April, occurred about 4 times in the early 1900s. We hope the early 2000s are not following suit!
We set up our College of Agriculture booth at the Farm Bureau thank a Farmer today with recruitment materials, a display of wines, jams and honey, and out fruit production information. The brunch was followed by an auction to benefit a farm family who lost a loved one.
The field crew began pruning peach trees yesterday. The crew will work on this over the next couple of weeks. We prune the peaches after most of the other fruit crops at the station since peaches can be injured if pruned too early.
The plastic was replaced today on the high tunnel. The entire crew took advantage of the nice warm day with calm winds to replace the plastic on the high tunnel. It takes teamwork, patience and some muscle to pull the cover over. The cover is Dura-Film Super 4, 6-mil polyethylene greenhouse film. Let the planting begin. Thanks to all our crew for working together to get this done.
Plastic is unrolled
Plastic is unfolded
Ropes were thrown over the tunnel at both ends and in the middle. Jeremy and Jameson then tied the rope to the plastic.
Stephen and Randy tying the corner
Sheila tying knots
Starting to pull the cover over
Sheila assisting with the middle
It is off and running
Manny, Avery, and Jameson pull over the plastic and get a workout
Stephen and Jeremy attach the corner with wiggle wire
Stephen and Jeremy working down the side of the tunnel with the wiggle wire
Jeremy still going
Randy’s turn with the wiggle wire
Jeremy finishing attaching the plastic to the end wall with wiggle wire
All hands on board
Jeremy and Avery finishing the other end wall
Jeremy and Randy clean up the excess plastic
Randy, Avery and Jeremy insert the fan to inflate the double layer
Randy inserting the fan into the bottom layer of plastic