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January Plunge

The thermometer at my house read -19 F at 6:00 in the morning.  Cold, not super cold, but cold enough to validate my decision not to grow peaches at home.  Was the commercial peach crop in the state hurt?   That remains to be seen, but at this time my guess is there will be peaches.  Why?

Peaches are always planted on the best site an orchard has to offer, one that is elevated relative to surrounding land offering a few degrees protection on those super cold nights and mornings.  And most peaches in New Hampshire are grown in the southern part of the state where temperatures were not quite so extreme.   There temperature readings  seemed to float between single digits below to perhaps -10 or so.  We have had great conditions so far this winter – good steady cold with little temperature fluctuation. Our better varieties should be able to take -10 to -12 and still offer us a spring crop.  Of course, there is a lot of winter left…and not every tree is planted on one of those “good” sites.

The deep snow has slowed most movement in orchards to a crawl.   Pruning when snow is deep is hard work – even deer pruning has been slowed down as they too have difficulty traveling through chest deep snows.  Voles, on the other hand, are likely enjoying the deep snow.  It offers great protection from predation by coyotes and owls and the like and easy access to tender tree bark.  For my few trees, I have knocked snow levels down to a few inches below the tops of the the guards to restrict vole access.

Spring pruning meetings for home gardeners will start soon (that word spring sounds good).  The first will be on March 5 in Cheshire County.  Watch this space for details on this and other pruning demonstrations as the season progresses.

Bill Lord, January 28, MMXI


Comment from Kitt Plummer
Time January 31, 2011 at 8:26 am

Hi Bill,
We measured the min temperature in Chester at -9f that AM. I think Dan said that they had no peaches twice in the last 25 years due to cold.

Comment from Tom Kaye
Time February 8, 2011 at 11:31 am

Since nectarines and peaches are related . . . if below 0 temps affect peaces would they affect nectarines? How about apples, pears, & plums?

We here so much about trees being able to survive sub-0 temps, but it seems it’s not the trees but the buds that are affected more by the temperature.

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