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A slow spring and critical temperatures

New raspberry and blackberry leaves

Last year my three exclamation point spring post came on March 26 --- the plant world had awakened, with peaches and dandelions in bloom and blackberry and pear leaves unfurling.  This year, we're at least a week behind...which is a good thing.
New gojiberry leaves
A few of our fruit trees --- the oldest peach, for sure, but also maybe the younger peach, nectarine, and cherry --- are old enough to set fruit, but only if a hard spring freeze doesn't nip their flowers.  Each stage in the bud-opening process has its critical temperature, below which the bud will be too damaged to set fruit.  For peaches, these temperatures are (for 10% and 90% kill, respectively):

  • Swollen bud stage - 18 F; 1 F
  • Bud shows green (like in the photo below on the right) - 21 F; 5 F
  • First pink on bud - 25 F; 15 F
  • First bloom - 26 F; 21 F
  • Full bloom - 27 F; 24 F
Pear leaf bud and peach flower bud

In the spring, we gardeners tend to get antsy and want everything to happen now, but a chilly winter slows things down and may mean more food in the long run.  Here's a table of critical temperatures for most of the common fruits.  Don't forget to keep your eye on the weather forecast once your fruit trees begin to bloom!

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