May 24, 2015

Friday night (May 22nd, 2015) the temperature dropped below freezing for several hours. The next day was cold and very windy. The frost, or the frost combined with cold, dry winds, did considerable damage to the foliage and flowers of various trees and seedlings scattered about the property.

The most obvious victims were young green ash saplings. By Saturday afternoon the five-year-old ashes beside the brook had turned completely black, stems and all. The damage in a stand of green ash and silver maple planted in 2006 was entirely restricted to the ash. They showed moderate defoliation on some lower branches. All maples seemed to hold up well to frost.

White birch seedlings planted two years ago (2013) showed little frost damage despite rapid growth this season. Their escape might have to do with their height.  Seedlings under a foot of height were hardest hit.

Shagbark hickory leaves on 2010 seedlings showed extensive damage. Pin oaks varied: the more verdant the recent growth, the more leaf damage. Slightly older red oaks showed red leaves, but no shriveling.

Black cherry saplings transplanted to the front lawn showed no damage.

Mulberries on the lawn have shriveled leaves, but the undeveloped seeds seem intact, if slightly discoloured. This applies to both the red mulberry trees and the hybrid which produces freakishly sweet, mauve mulberries.

2012 black walnut seedlings were whacked by the frost. That’s no surprise, for I looked at 7 acres of 2005 walnuts and only the most sheltered have the bulk of their leaves intact. One relatively exposed plot of 2006 butternuts will have to grow new leaves, a trick these trees do anyway in response to insect attacks. The adjoining black walnuts planted in the fall of 2005 have heavily damaged foliage, as well.

The real question remains whether the apples, pears, and the producing black walnut tree which lie in the shelter of the house will bear fruit this year. I suspect that the presence of two furnaces running nearby on the night of the frost may have created a micro-clime to allow their flowers to survive. Time will tell.

A note about weeds might be in order. Buckhorn seems impervious to frost. I detected no frost damage to the dreaded wild parsnip which I spent Friday and Saturday spraying. Wild cucumbers and the more verdant climbing vines suffered greatly in the frost, but the robust climbing vines soldier on.

Apart from the green ash, the showiest sufferers were 2013 Norway Spruce seedlings. They had been having a great spring, but the new growth is now brown and dessicated. White spruce and white pines, like maples, seem to have suffered not at all.


One Response to “Frost”

  1. tobystewart Says:

    Rod — It was nice meeting you the other day when Capt. JohnB introduced us…and I’m enjoying your blog.

    I would like to sign up to receive future postings…is this how it’s done? OR….?


    Toby Stewart

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