[NAFEX] Freeze Damage

Brungardt, Sam Sam.Brungardt at state.mn.us
Mon Apr 9 13:18:05 EDT 2007

Good comments, Richard.   I grew up in a part of Kansas where late
spring frosts are the rule rather than the exception. When they hit, we
or the wildlife simply did not have fruit that year, either cultivated
or wild, except for species that bloomed very late or trees that were in
microclimates that either protected them or retarded their growth and
bloom.  We didn't like it, but what else could be done.  Due to the
recent cold weather, my mom's apricots, peaches, pears and sour cherries
in Hays, Kan. (about midway between Kansas City and Denver) will not
have any fruit.
Undoubtedly, wildlife does suffer when fruiting plants do not produce a
crop, but most animals do not rely on a single food source.  
This weekend, we drove from St. Paul, Minn., where most things had not
yet leafed out or started blooming, to Lawrence, Kan., via Omaha and
returned via Kansas City and Des Moines.  Everywhere we passed through
had experienced temps in the teens after weeks of abnormally warm temps.
In Lawrence, the early tulips looked very limp, bowed over onto the
ground.  The blossoms on my friend's dogwoods in Kansas City were frozen
on the tree.
But almost all things will either regrow from buds that remained dormant
while their neighbors began growth or if the top was killed, will
resprout from the roots.  It's not nice for fruit growers like us, but
it's not the end of the world.
--  Sam Brungardt in St. Paul, Minn., where the snowdrops had finished
blooming and the flowers of the species crocus and scilla are being held
tightly shut and to the ground.
-----Original Message-----
From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Richard Moyer
Sent: Monday, April 09, 2007 10:55 AM
To: nafex at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Freeze Damage

"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" 
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

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