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Freezing Temperatures and What It Means for Our 2021 Fruit Crop

How did the freezing temperatures affect your fruit crop?

Nashville, Ark. – With the extremely cold temperatures experienced the week of February 14 and Howard County reaching a low of -14, many of you may be wondering how or if this will affect the fruit crop for this year, especially peaches. This week was anything but a typical mid-February week:

  • Most all plants were dormant.
  • We received 11.5 inches of snowfall that acted as insulation covering a large portion or in some cases all the plants we already have planted. Most strawberry plants were completely covered.
  • There were 5 consecutive days where temperatures were freezing or below freezing, and two of those days we even found ourselves in the negatives.

Are you wondering just how hardy your plants are? Most of us are fortunate that many of our crops were still dormant, because at this stage they tend to be hardier and can withstand the colder temperatures better. Those of you that might not be so lucky are the ones with blueberries, blackberries, or peaches. When buds start to show on these plants, we do not want temperatures to drop below the 20’s. If you have not gone out and accessed for damage on your peaches, now is a good time to do so. You will want to be sure and focus on the buds, canes, and stems. If you have any cold injury, you may see dark spots in the center of buds or darkening of the vascular tissue in both the canes and stems.

If you notice damage, it does not mean you will have no flowers or fruit. However, it may result in fewer blooms which will result in fewer fruit. Maybe you did not see any damage on the outside of the plant. That does not mean there is not damage present in the vascular tissue. This will be a process; it will take time to fully know how many buds survived the extremely cold temperatures and then know if the vascular tissue has received damage.

How will you know if the vascular tissue (the plumbing part of the plant that supplies the bud with the needed water and nutrients) is working or not? It will take time, and you will see the buds may break but then die. Remember just because you lost 20% of your buds does not mean you have lost 20% of your normal crop. Some peaches require thinning; so, if you received minimal damage, you may not even notice it.

Since we never know what the weather is going to be like, be sure to keep a check on your plants. We still have flowering to make it through which is the most sensitive stage of production.  

For more information, you can send an email to Howard County Extension office is still working and is there for all the residences in Howard County during this time. 

By Samantha Horn
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Samantha Horn
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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