[NAFEX] Freeze Damage

Richard Moyer ramoyer at gmail.com
Mon Apr 9 11:54:52 EDT 2007


"As for Richard Moyer's comments about welcoming this as a test to remove
the pantywaist plants that can't make it in Tennessee, does he plan to
remove everything except cedars, pines, and blackberries?  Sorry Richard,
but this was not your normal late spring freeze.  This was a disaster for
all life for the entire southeastern US.  I've been thinking about it.
 Hailstorns only devastate small areas.  Even hurricanes only cut a swath a
mile or so wide.  Earthquakes tend not to disrupt plants all that much.  And
alas, if the 22 year drought cycle holds, the bad weather is only
beginning...       Donna"

Donna,
Your frustration over this freeze is real.  Agreed that this is not a normal
spring freeze.  Was surreal to see a neighbor out mowing lush grass at 26F
in April.
As for context of my comments, the Southern Appalachians support hundreds of
woody species.  At my place, we limited our plantings to merely 25 genera
(kinds) of fruiting plants and a couple of nuts.  When we humans come to
depend on relatively few crops from different climates (e.g. Asia), we
assume risks.  My Asian persimmons who still genetically behave as
though they are in Seoul have been severly damaged.  But with 12+ types, I
have several that have not budded out yet, and appear to be fine.  BTW, most
of our fruit is on a southern slope at 1800'.  Since all the fruit for our
family (2-3 meals worth per day) comes from our two acres, we planted a wide
diversity of fruits for severe events such as these.  Our gooseberries and
currants look fine, as do the blackberries, raspberries, figs, mulberries,
juneberries (Amelanchier) in full bloom, plus others.  We have been
increasing those fruits that yield despite record spring freezes.  We are
grafting more of the apples that are long bloomers; some of them have
undamaged bloom buds on our trees as of this morning, ones that are just
showing pink.  These long bloomers can be a pain to manage but they likely
will provide apples this year.  So even with multiple crop losses we
will still be eating fresh fruit this year.  This attributed to King
Solomon: " Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not
know what misfortune may occur on the earth."

In addition to plant diversity, we preserve an additional season of certain
fruits we eat the most of, dried juiced and canned.   So we can stand to
lose a whole season of certain crops and still have it to eat.  I think my
wife too conservative on this, but this year she got it right.  Certain
trees also plan on occasional very limited fruit/seed production.
This perhaps to their advantage as well:
Trees such as beech vary widely in their mast production year to year even
outside of record spring freezes.  Some ecologists reason this holds down
the number of animals eating the nuts.  Our current freeze killed some
animals outright, and some will die of starvation if limited in
diet.  But for eons, certain nut trees have varied widely their nut
production through their genetics, and therefore on their own are causing
population crashes of certain animals dependent on them.  We humans tend to
select/manage for consistent yearly production, forgetting this is not the
natural reproduction rhythm of many plants.

So I doubt this freeze will cause the extinction of any species.  It WILL
cause hardship for those species dependent on monocultures/limited
polycultures for their sustenance, humans included.

Richard Moyer
Zone 6, East TN
Where the clove currants and are still happily blooming and setting fruit.
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