It was just 1 F this morning, the first of what will likely be many cold days over the next 3 months or so. How does that compare to years past?
Well, on December 10 in 1902 it hit -13 F while just a year earlier on that date it hit a balmy 63 F. Our weather is if nothing else, never boring.
Neither extreme is normal, and both extremes carry some risk. The -13 reading in 1902 likely would have taken out most peach buds. A -21 F event on December 21 in 1980 was a bit more damaging, wiping out almost the entire peach crop in NH and killing tens of acres of wine grapes back to ground level outright.
I spent some time this past weekend checking vole guards around trees and adding new ones where needed. This chore should have been done weeks earlier, but with the ground still bare, I was OK. With snow cover likely very soon, I am happy I finally got around to this chore.
For vole guards I use hardware cloth, usually 1/4 or 1/2 inch mesh. I cut 18 inch tall pieces roughly 20 inches long which bends to form a protective cylinder about 6-7 inches across. Cut hardware cloth is hard on the hands so gloves are important. Fastening the ends of the cylinder together is easy now that I use hog rings.
A short crop (oh, that May 11 morning) and warm summer did produce one thing in abundance in our orchards – strong fruit buds that promise a great crop in 2011. Now if only we can have moderate temperatures this winter and spring…
Bill Lord, December 10, MMX
Posted: December 13th, 2010 under Fruit Growers Journal.