Posted by: pyeager | March 26, 2012

Eastern Fruit Crop Damage Likely

By Paul Yeager, author of Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

I enjoyed the nice weather as much as anyone else, but it looks as if we’re going to pay for the extended and exceptional early-season warmth tonight. With frost and freeze warnings extending from the Midwest into the mid-Atlantic region, along with very cold conditions in the Northeast, damage is likely to the upcoming eastern fruit crop.

NWS Watchings and Warnings

Watches and warnings map from NOAA; Light blue areas are under freeze warnings, and dark blue areas are under frost warnings.

We all know that fruit trees are susceptible to below-freezing temperatures once the trees flower, many of which in the mid-Atlantic region already have–the areas warned above–but it’s less clear to me how much damage can be done to trees when they have budded but not yet bloomed.

Interior Pennsylvania and New York state are not in the warned area, which surprises me since it seems as if the trees in those areas are also susceptible to serious damage. The trees may not be as far along as trees in the warmer areas, but according to my limited research, damage is still likely.

An article in the Centre Daily Times (central Pennsylvania) over the weekend indicated that farmers believed that fruit trees have advanced enough to be susceptible to damage, and an interview on the Weather Channel over the weekend made referenced to concerned farmers in parts of New York State. (New England has not been warm enough for trees to sustain damage.)

I hope that damage is not too extensive, but I’m not hopeful given the amount of time temperatures will be below freezing (six hours plus in some areas) and the intensity of the cold (temps in the teens in parts of northern Pa/southern New York).

For more on the threat to fruit crops in the Midwest, see today’s Jeff Masters’ blog.

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