Thursday, April 29, 2010

Early Spring

An unusual spring is coaxing apple trees into early bloom--and raising fears of a crop-killing frost.
Apple blossoms at Nagog Hill Orchard last Saturday, April 24.

Writing for the Associate Press, Bob Salsberg reports,

Orchard managers and fruit experts said a balmy early spring — the mercury climbed to a record-shattering 92 degrees in parts of New England on April 7 — combined with an early snow melt and heavy rains in March has trees blossoming two to three weeks ahead of schedule on average. That leaves plenty of time on the calendar for the region's notoriously unpredictable weather to strike back with a killer freeze.

Indeed, April freezes are not unknown here. I recall a May snowstorm.

Blooming trees are vulnerable to frost.

How early is spring this year?

John Burns, general manager of Lookout Farm in Natick, Mass., said the first of his 60,000 fruit trees — about a third of them apple trees — bloomed 24 days ahead of last year.

Burns told Salsberg,

"I can't take any precautions here if we are going to have a hard freeze. It's not like we're in Florida or California and we have a sprinkler system."

Another grower, in Vermont, said,

"It's not just a little bit the earliest, it's the earliest by miles. I've never seen anything like this.... It's not a little bit weird ... its high weird."

Full story here.

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