I have been receiving lots of calls from worried homeowners about the effect late snow storms and cold weather might have on their blooming fruit trees.
Warm temperatures in February and March have caused some fruit trees, like apricots, to reach peak bloom just in time for a late snow storm this week. Should you be worried? – Maybe or maybe not depending on just how low temperatures dip. The Utah Pests team put together this fantastic factsheet on Critical Temperatures for Frost Damage on Fruit Trees. It is also a good reminder that fruit trees typically set more fruit buds than what is necessary to produce a good crop so frost damage to a portion of the buds does not mean you will not see any fruit later in the year. As the factsheet states “to have a full crop of cherries requires well over 50% bud survival while apples, pears, and peaches may only need 10-15% bud survival”. Gardeners can also cover lower limbs or small trees with a tarp or blanket to provide extra protection if temperatures creep down to a critical range.
Bulbs like garlic, tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth can tolerate spring snow storms but if spring bulbs have already produced flowers, the petals may be damaged by the snow weight and moisture. Not to worry though, late snow storms are normal for us along the Wasatch Front and provide dormant plants essential moisture necessary for emergence from their long winter snooze.