Friday, 20 December 2013

AVOIDING LATE FROST DAMAGE

Most years, as often as not, we all experience late frosts when Spring is underway and these have the potential to do more damage than more penetrating winter frosts. The majority of our fruit plants and trees are fairly impervious whilst dormant. But when new growths start to appear, growth which is soft and vulnerable, and flowers start to open as well, then the chances are a frost at this time will do some damage. Those fruits most at risk include Blackcurrants, strawberries, gooseberries, redcurrants, apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots and nectarines. Figs showing nerw growth, walnuts, kiwi fruit [Chinese Gooseberry] and Mulberries can all be trimmed back by late frosts, thos burgeoning new growths turned black overnight. Raspberries, loganberries and blackberries are normally ok because blossom develops much later.
You can be on guard with fleece, or even sheets of newspaper tied to flowering branches, if the weather turns frosty late on. But you can also plan ahead with variety selection. If you live in an area, or have a garden that is succestable, to late frosts then it is wise to choose later flowering varieties, or those that are particularly recommended for Northern or cold areas. These types will be more able to shrug off the effects of a late frost, or may flower so late that they will usually avoid nightime temperatures below freezing.
There is a good selection of ‘Ben’ prefix newer Blackcurrants which are all Scottish raised and seldom get hit by frost damage. Culinary apples are usually hardier than dessert; and some Northern European plum varieties are markedly more tolerant to frost – Violetta and Jubilee in particular.
If your garden is routinely hit by such conditions then the more tender fruits, such as apricot, peach, nectarine, fig, kiwi vines and apricot, should be cultivated in a cold conservatory, or grown in pots that can be moved indoors temporarily during cold spring spells.
When re-planting, or planting fruit in a new garden for the first time, it’s worh utilizing an area that doesn’t get the morning sun. It is when new growths and flowers de-fropst too quickly that the maximum amount of damage occurs. Afternoon sun is best.

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