Budding Fruit Trees?!?
Deep down inside, us desert dwellers understand the importance of a cold and snowy winter. We want the reservoirs full, the mountain springs flowing, and the earth saturated with moisture. We want these things because we want the freedom to water our lawns, take long baths, swim in deep pools, and drink fresh water. However, this winter has been so nice. The sun is almost always shinning, the ice vanishes merely days after it arrives, and the kids have been riding their bikes to school almost every day! We have spent nearly every weekend playing in the nearby southern Utah sun and we have enjoyed every ounce of vitamin D we have absorbed.
About two weeks ago as I was taking my time feeding the chickens I walked through the nearby fruit trees to see if they might need a drink of water. What I found was much worse than a thirsty tree! Every single one of my fruit trees had started to bud. I wanted to cry. My trees are young and will most likely not produce a real great fall harvest but now they are almost certain to not produce anything. So what exactly is the problem? When plants and trees blossom early they are not in the proper condition to withstand freezing temperatures; and it ALWAYS freezes through April in these parts (sometimes even through June). Early budding will cause the blossoms and possibly the leaves to die in frost conditions, leaving you with a tree that may not be prepared to withstand the heat of summer. Luckily, (although not a welcomed condition), early budding will not kill the tree, just the blossoms. Provided the following winter cooperates, the trees could be as good as new by next spring.
What can be done? Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do to bring the frost back into the soil. However, if your perennials and trees do experience early blooming followed by later frost damage you can protect your tree from total demise by ensuring it is fertilized and watered well throughout the remaining year. This is especially important if the plant suffered a great deal of leaf damage as they may struggle through the hot summer months. So, for now, keep your fingers crossed that corporate orchards in other parts of the country are not experiencing the same problems as your back yard and keep your eyes peeled for good deals on fresh fruit next summer. Or, give up all hopes of canning fruit in September.