Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

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Protecting perennial fruit crops from frost damage


April 20, 2021
By Fruit and Vegetable

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With warm weather arriving earlier than usual this spring, crops are also developing ahead of schedule. This puts perennial plants, like strawberries and tree fruits, at greater risk of damage from late spring frosts. Three members of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ (OMAFRA’s) fruit team – fruit specialist Erica Pate, tender fruit and grape specialist Kathryn Carter, and tree fruit specialist Erika DeBrouwer – share advice for growers to protect their crops against damaging frosts.

Carter and DeBrouwer break down frost injury, types of frost, and mitigation strategies for reducing frost damage to tree crops, such as apples and tender fruit like peaches. The unseasonably warm temperatures have reminded some growers of spring 2012, where weeks of warm temperatures and a late frost had disastrous consequences for that year’s tree fruit crops.

Monitoring for frost conditions is a major step in damage prevention, allowing growers to prepare mitigation strategies like frost fans or irrigation.

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 Pate reminds strawberry growers that temperatures are typically cooler closer to the ground than the forecast might suggest and to make use of row covers and/or irrigation to protect strawberry crops from frost damage. Parts of Ontario are expecting snow this week, which will provide insulation against damage.