(Area) The unseasonably warm March has southwest Iowans seeing green everywhere they turn. Will an early April freeze bring an end to that?
Montgomery County Extension Program Coordinator Bill Drey says most trees are capable of surviving one freeze.
“If you get a lot of frost on those leaves, those leaves will probably turn black in a few days and they are going to be gone. Deciduous trees, most of them will shoot a second leaf. Last year when we had all those hail storms that went through parts of southern Cass and Montgomery County those trees that lost their leaves shot a second leaf.”
Drey says the biggest concern is with fruit trees.
“If it’s 28 degrees for about 30 minutes you are going to get 10% kill. If that lasts any longer than that you could probably get up to 90% kill if the temperature gets down to 25. So if you had a 25 degree temperature for 30 minutes you are probably going to get almost 90% kill on those buds on fruit trees.”
Along with fruit trees, younger trees are more susceptible to damage from cold weather. Drey says orchards use large fans to create a mist that provides some protection from the cold. He says fruit trees haven’t faced this type of a risk for many years.
“It’s been a long time, we had an Indian summer, Iowa used to be one of the leading apple producing states back in the 1940’s and early ‘50’s. We had an Indian summer where it warmed up too much in the winter time and those trees started to shoot leaves and it got real cold and it actually killed most of our apple trees in Iowa in the middle ‘50’s.”