Cold Temperature Damage in Fruit Crops

Gordon Johnson, Extension Ag Agent, Kent Co.; gcjohn@udel.edu

We have seen considerable cold temperature damage to fruit crops in parts of Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. In particular, certain mid-season peach varieties have severely reduced crops; some varieties will not have enough fruit to warrant harvest, and other varieties will have a reduced crop. Early peaches and those up to the Red Haven season have better sets and will need to be thinned. Later peaches also have better sets.

Matted row strawberries that were uncovered have suffered anywhere from a 15% to over 50 % loss of flowers due freeze damage in some areas. Brambles (raspberries and blackberries), have also had significant winter damage to canes resulting in the need for additional pruning back of dead material.

These losses can be attributed to three cold weather events. On March 3 and 4, low temperatures were near 0°F in some areas. The second damaging event was on March 25 where temperatures dropped to 22°F and the third event was on April 13 where low temperatures reached 26°F in some areas.

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