Disclaimer: This post is for entertainment purposes only. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author.
Some Like It Hot, Some Like It Cold…
This saying goes for more than just peas in the pot. There are people with heat intolerance, and some with cold intolerances. Same with animals, insects, and not surprising plants.
But this isn’t new information.
We all know that certain plants are native to certain growing areas, or plant hardiness zones. Speaking generally and not specifically, many plants can go from a cooler to a warmer hardiness zone with little issues, but the reverse is not always the case.
The reason for this is the hardiness zone, according to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone , are the regions where the certain plants can survive the typical winter.
This is a useful tool for gardeners and plant enthusiasts as it can provide guidance for which plants can be permanently planted outdoors, which need to be brought in for the winter, and which ones may need a permanent artificial environment via a climate controlled greenhouse.
This information is also useful for when your winters dip below the norm as it can give one an idea of what to expect.
Sudden Frost Affects All
The recent polar vortex has caused havoc on people’s lives, as well as energy infrastructures. It has also, not surprisingly, affected agriculture. The real question is how much?
It’s still too soon to know the exact amount of damage done by the unexpected low temperatures across the midwest and into the south, though some is expected.
Rather than overly speculate on the future forecast of crops let’s instead look at a few plants that may be closer to home.
Three Frosty Fruit Trees.
Surviving the Winter Vortex
The Apple Tree: Apple trees come in a wide range of varieties, and happily many of these varieties are quite hardy. They can be grown in most regions, although there are some varieties that require more “chill time” or time dormant, than others.
So if you live in a colder area, or an area that has a more stereotypical winter your apple trees are probably in a dormant state and are most likely going to be unaffected by the recent drop in temperatures.
However in the warmer regions, such as southern Texas, many apple trees were already beginning to put out leaves and blossoms. It is during this time that they are most vulnerable to a hard frost.
The exact amount of cold each stage of the bud-to-blossom can tolerate varies.
Early buds can tolerate 2 degrees fahrenheit for 10 minutes, and full blossoms can tolerate 25 degrees fahrenheit. After 10 minutes at these low temperatures 90% of buds and blossoms will be affected and may die.
But there’s hope. A damaged bloom can still produce fruit. However it can have a frost band on it, and it may ripen faster and be softer than the non damaged blooms.
Wild American Persimmons: These are among some of the hardiest of fruit bearing trees. Smaller than their store purchased counterparts, they can be just as tasty.
They have been cultivated since prehistoric times and were widely used by Native Americans.
They grow best in hardiness regions 4-8.
Their buds bloom in the spring in the warmer regions and late spring in the cooler regions. The fruit ripens mid fall to early winter.
Pro Tip: if foraging for wild persimmons make sure the fruit is fully ripe before eating or you will have a chalky taste in your mouth.
Personally, I’ve had this experience with my grandmother’s persimmons (which were the asian variety) when I was a kid. However, I found that it was greatly reduced by removing the skin. That being said, there are lots of excellent sites on how to forage for persimmons.
The recent cold front may not have affected your wilde american persimmon tree much, especially if it hadn’t started to bloom.
Established Fig Tree: I say established because if not properly hardened, and their root system established, fig trees can be easily damaged or killed.
However, if established they can be quite hardy. In the spring and early summer fig trees use the water stored in their roots and trunk to produce herbaceous growth as well as fruit.
By the late fall they should be well into a dry and hardened period, preparing for winter.
Fig trees need hot summers and well drained soil so that the wood will harden. If that happens then they ought to winter well. However the herbaceous wooden branches and new growth is highly susceptible to cold weather.
Sunny Days Are Here Again
How well a fruit tree weathers a winter storm greatly depends on the species, its susceptibility to cold, and it’s established pattern of growth.
Of course a freak storm or unusual weather patterns can always wreak havoc on the norm.
So yes, there’s no easy answer. Plants are complex organisms requiring just the right environment to grow. They can be fairly adaptable, all the above fruit trees can be grown in a variety of climates, except maybe the fig tree, it’s pretty finicky.
Like most things in life, time will tell how much damage was received to the trees and crops.
The immediate damages to people; the loss of life, of homes, and the continued loss of energy for some, is still on our minds.
Our prayers go out to the people recovering from the recent winter vortex and a wish of warmer weather in the coming days.
Sending out good vibes for healing as we enter the season of spring, the season of new life.