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Potential extreme cold impacts on fruit crops
Peter Hirst and Bruce Bordelon, Purdue Extension
Apples and Pears: These fruits are very hardy, but extremely cold temperatures close to -15°F could produce some bud damage.
Peaches and Nectarines: The rule of thumb is that some flower bud kill occurs at -10°F and for every degree below -10°F, 10% of flower buds are lost. At -20°F, expect complete flower bud mortality.
Sweet and tart cherries: Tart cherries are hardier to extreme cold than sweets. However, temperatures around -15°F is when some bud damage could occur in both sweet and tart cherries.
Blueberries: Highbush blueberries are generally tolerant of temperatures down to -15°F, but an extended period of cold will likely lead to some flower bud kill.
Blackberries: Thorny and thornless blackberries are not hardy below -10°F, so below this threshold, there could be considerable damage to vascular tissue in canes and potentially in the buds themselves. In severe cases, all above ground growth could be killed. Blackberries commonly exhibit a delayed winter injury response where the buds may have survived the winter cold and begin to grow in the spring, but the damage to the vascular tissue in the canes results in collapse of the new growth a few days or weeks after the start of growth.
Raspberries: Red and black raspberries are fairly hardy to cold temperatures, but temperatures around or below -15°F could cause some minimal damage to Midwest varieties.
Grapes: Varieties of grapes can vary widely in amount of damage from extreme cold temperatures. Grapes have a compound bud, with primary, secondary and tertiary growing points. The primaries are usually the first to show cold damage. At temperatures around -15°F, it would be expected that hardy hybrid and American varieties would have 0-25% primary bud damage. This percent loss is management since pruning severity can be adjusted to account for those losses. Less hardy hybrids may have 50% or more bud damage at temperatures around -15°F, which could lead to some yield reduction and potential cane and cordon damage. At temperatures around -15°F, cold tender viniferous varieties likely experience considerable damage to buds, canes, and cordons and possible damage to trunks above the snow line.