It’s that time of year again when apple growers in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia begin to worry about Late Spring Frosts. And this friendly neighborhood vinegar maker is anxiously checking the weather reports.
Why am I checking the weather reports every day? Because the tender fruit buds are beginning to open up and are full of sap. Low temperatures can freeze the sap in a tender bud and rupture it’s delicate cell walls - killing it.
However, Mother Nature is clever and compensates for sudden freezing temperatures. Not all the buds open at the same time on an apple tree. A hard freeze may kill the buds that have started to open, but many other buds on the tree remain unopened. That way, not all the fruiting buds are killed. This insures at least a partial apple crop for most years. The real danger is when the buds are fully opened into blossoms. That is when they are most vulnerable.
April is an unpredictable month on our farm. The days can get to 70 degrees during the day and plunge down to below freezing at night! Although I can’t do anything about the weather, I still fret and worry and examine the fruiting buds for signs of frost damage and make calculations about potential crop sizes. But in the end, what will be will be.
Thankfully, I also take the time to walk around the farm and marvel at Spring’s Awakening. The frogs are singing in the pond, the birds are singing in the trees and I’m singing the joys of Spring!