In the past couple weeks we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying temperatures in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. After a mild winter, spring seemed to be here. Grass was growing and all of the flowery signs of spring were out in full force. Beautiful magnolias, flowering cherries, flowering pears along with fruit trees were putting on a lovely show.

As fruit trees go, peaches were the farthest along with most in partial bloom and many in full bloom. However, in the past week, we have seen temperatures drop down into the low 20’s. And, as you may have seen, the cold is not kind to flowers, as evidenced by all of the magnolias and cherries with brown flowers. Not only are the flowers vulnerable, but the succulent new foliage on some plants is vulnerable as well. I’ve been seeing the new growth on boxwoods laying over limp and browning.

Fruit Production Uncertain This Year – Time Will Tell

This week I received an email from Rutgers’ Fruit Tree Specialist warning of damage to blooming fruit trees, along with a chart of damage expected at certain temperatures. Peaches probably fared worst due to how far along they were in their bloom cycles. According to Michigan State University, peach trees in full bloom will sustain 10% fruit kill when temps drop to 27°F and 90% kill when temps drop to 24°F.

Apples in the stages of ½ inch green to tight cluster (stages that we’re currently seeing) will experience 10% fruit kill at 23°F-27°F and 90% fruit kill at 15°F-21°F. Temps of 18°F-21°F were reported in Hunterdon County. I’ve looked at my orchards and I am seeing some flower kill, but others look fine. It is going to be wait and see to find out how bad our fruit trees have been hit. I’m hoping that the local temps didn’t drop so low in our orchards. Be prepared to have significantly reduced fruit production this season, especially on peaches.

If you’re worried about your landscape plants or just have questions, give us a call at 908.204.9918 and we will come out to evaluate your trees and make recommendations if necessary.