Temperatures are forecast to hover around freezing overnight, for the next several nights, which could threaten all those early blooming spring flowers.
Because of the cold temperatures, the National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook on Wednesday. Low temperatures are forecast to drop to a frosty 34 degrees Wednesday night and dip below freezing by Thursday night. Low temperatures are forecast to pick up to the 40s by the weekend.
That means newly budded and sensitive outdoor plants could be killed if left uncovered. Representatives from recommended covering plants with freeze cloths, newspapers or sheets. Gardeners can also spray a product called Freeze Proof on the plants.
for additional advice on how to protect your plants.
According to Michigan State University Extension, summer-like weather in March, with highs near 80 and lows in the 60s, caused rapid bloom of fruit trees that normally bloom in April and May. In southern Michigan from March 19-23, a different fruit species opened every day. The hot, dry conditions during bloom made early pollination of the flowers very important to set fruit. The cool weather in late March has slowed tree growth and trees are now stressed by the cool soil temperatures. Hard freezes with temperatures below 28°F are common in April, so the early bloom does not mean an early or abundant harvest.
This has been a major concern for MSU Extension fruit educators and commercial fruit growers. There are a good number of fruit articles posted in the Fruit section of MSU Extension News. Many of these articles would be of interest for hobby orchardists.
Some examples include:
- “Record-breaking warm weather advances beginning of growing season,” Jeff Andresen and Aaron Pollyea
- “Freeze damage depends on tree fruit stage of development,” Mark Longstroth
- “Managing orchard nutrition for an early spring,” Eric Hanson, Amy Irish-Brown and Bill Shane