Unseasonably high temperatures this past week warmed up winter-weary New Englanders, but they also gave a dose of spring to trees. Fruit tree experts say they hope it doesn’t get so warm that the trees blossom too early.
A warm spell in February heats up a tree’s metabolism. And if it’s an extended warm period, the buds can swell. Wesley Autio, the director of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass Amherst, said that’s not a problem unless it’s followed by a sudden and severe drop in temperature.
“It would be damaging its ability to make those flower buds come out and bloom,” Autio said. “And the part of the flower bud which is most most sensitive is the ovary tissue, which will ultimately develop into the seed.”
And the fruit forms around the seed.
Autio said that last year, sub-zero temperatures in February along with unseasonably cold weather in early April destroyed the peach crop, along with cherries and most plums. But so far, farmers are expecting a good season this year.