Spring Assessment of Fruit Crop after recent Freezing Temperatures

We have been receiving a lot of questions about how our peaches, nectarines, apples, and other tree fruit crops made out during the freezing temperatures we dealt with in the early days of April. After a very mild winter and extremely warm March, our fruit trees bloomed at least 3 weeks earlier than last year. When the cold weather hit on April 3, 5, 6, and 10, our peaches and nectarines were at full bloom, the Apricots and Plums were just past full bloom, and the apple, pear and cherry trees were on the brink of the first blossoms opening. We saw lows down into the very low 20’s, which can be devastating to open fruit blossoms. The cold weather put a lot of stress on the fruit blossoms (and on the growers too!).

frozen blossom

Photo courtesy of Penn State Fruit Research & Extension Center, by E. Winzeler

Now that a few weeks have passed since the freezing temperatures hit, we can do some evaluations of the viability of the different blossoms to see what crop we might have. The peaches and nectarines certainly had blossoms damaged, but with such a large initial bloom this year, we could more than afford to lose some blossoms and still have a full crop. The apples and pears seem to have skimmed by with just some minor damage since they were not in full bloom yet. We are still concerned about the size of the plum and cherry crop – we see some viable blossoms/baby fruit on the trees, but it is certainly not a bumper crop. The apricots (the first tree fruit to bloom every year) seem to have taken the hardest hit. Our observations seem to coincide with the assessments by the scientists at the county Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center as you can see here.

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