This winter’s deep freeze may damage summer crops and landscaping

Weather

ST. LOUIS – After a relatively mild and steady winter, we’ve hit this stretch of extreme cold that’s lasted a while. That could mean damage to summer fruit crops and landscapes.  

As temperatures plummet near zero, farmers anticipate some damage to their fruit crops. Dave Thies of Thies Farms and Greenhouses says his biggest concern is for his peach trees. 

“They are notorious and well known that when we get down into the zero range we start losing some of our buds for that year,” said Thies. 

There’s a rule of thumb he uses to anticipate the damage. 

“For every degree below zero you lose about 10% of your crop. So if we would hit three below, figure we’re going to have 30 to 40 percent less fruit on that tree than we normally would have,” he explained. 

Strawberries tend to be tougher and they’re covered. 

“We’re trying to protect that crown which is above the ground so they’re covered and the little blanket of snow we have will be very beneficial to help protect them,” said Thies. 

As far as berries go, when we get to near zero they can also be damaged. 

“It is tough for blackberries and raspberries to survive that with the full crop,” he said. 

Good news for the fall apple crop, they’re tough and are able to sustain cold temperatures. Plus, they’re deep in dormancy.  

The steady January temperatures without any big swings can help keep damage from the latest arctic blast at a minimum. 

“Where you jump up to 60, 65 degrees and you swing back down and cold and back and forth. That is harder on some of the perennial crops than steady cold like we were in January,” said Thies. 

But, we may be missing some of our favorite plants in our landscapes come spring and summer. 

“Roses, probably some hydrangeas. Even some perennials if they’re not mulched properly, we could see a little damage on that,” said Thies. “Especially anything that’s elevated, not in the ground. If I was a betting man, I’d say they’re not going to make it through the winter.” 

But one good thing about all this snow is that it acts as a blanket to help insulate roots and crowns. 

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