I feel like each time I put on and take off frost cloth from flowering fruit trees more flowers are being damaged and falling off. Suggestions please, and thank you :)
A lot more will fall off without it, but are you still getting frosts?
If they have been pollinated they will fall off anyway, and the flowers will only last a few days as it is so undoubtedly some are naturally falling off. Further, if you are still experiencing freezes the flowers in contact with the frost cloth will likely be damaged. Such is life. Generally there are way more flowers than a tree can support and you will heavily thin their corresponding fruit in a few weeks anyway.
I pulled mine up and packed it away last week or so and came close with two surprise days with 34-35 degrees mornings but unless a jet stream starts to fall down from Canada, I'm not planning on putting them back out.
the tree is in a very cold area of yard so I always assume it drops 10 degrees colder than rest of area. Guess there is no right answer?
Well that is actually pretty superb for your higher chill hour trees. Chris Henggeler actually turned me (and the rest of last year's PC class) onto this min/max thermometer. It is the best way to confirm hot and cold spots.
hmmm, so I left the frost cloth on another day after how it looked this morning. NOt sure what you are suggesting now. I have a cheap thermometer sitting next to the tree... but not out checking it all hours of day and night :)
If you want to purchase a min/max thermometer for better checking do so later. (They are a very worthwhile investment - I use one all the time to track temperatures for my writing.)
For now - You can check the temperature at dusk both by the trees and in the "warm" area of your garden. Compare that to the expected overnight temps, and try to get a feel for the variable. Most retained heat disapates this time of year by about 4-5 a.m. so if you are up at dawn, you will see what the low is for "your" overnight. The ranges will generally be the same for you, so if you do check the dawn temp, and the projected overnight was X and yours varies at your cold area by say 6 degrees you can use that as a gauge as to whether to protect.
As Powell mentions the cold is very good for your trees. The blossoms do not live that long. You may see petals falling or being yanked off but as long as the center of the flower is still there, the bees can or have done their work. Hope that helps :-)
P.S. We had 36ish degrees about 4 days ago, but the last several nights have only gone down to low 40s and we are in an outerlying area, but a warmer one. Just an FYI.
wow , I guess I am on your wave length.
I was awake at 430 but not outside till 6am when I used the flashlight to peak under the frost cloth that had no frost= 32 degrees. Being that it was still dark I am going to use that as a reference!
One thing I thought of though yesterday is by keeping the frost cloth on all day ( lazy) the bees could not do their job. SO, unveiled again today. PLease confirm , are you suggesting covering the tree when it is at freezing "In case" of frost but enjoy the benefits of the cold?
Freezing generally occurs between 4-7am. Once it is above freezing you can remove the cloth...though if it is near freezing (35 degrees F or less), a breeze can drop it below freezing in the tree's microenvironment. Plus for best performance you want the cloth removed in the daytime to heat up the ground for the next evening's frost covering.
And yes, frost cloth left on will impede the bees, but they don't like to work when it is near freezing or windy either.
So my initial mistake was leaving cloth on for days at a time:) I have learned from you that the easiest way is not the best way:)
thanks to again to Catherine ( as always )
Yes, Linda, the 'girls' can't get in to do their job if the trees are covered during the day, but as Powell says they are not active a 30 degrees either. I may have contributed to that misconception about leaving them on completely for a day or two would not hurt them. I should have said only if we are at freezing temperatures for an extended period and only for 1 or 2 days otherwise the bees can't pollinate. Sorry.
You can help the pollination process at this point if you want to make like a bee :-) - take a q-tip and just move from the center to center of the flowers gently nudging the stamins.
Re: the whole topic of freezing on the stone fruit trees. The cold as Powell has mentioned is what the tree needs, but NOT while the flower blossoms are in the process of first budding out or during the finite point of pollination. If you reached 32 in your garden the other night, then you still have some kind of frost potential. So, cover at night and take off in the morning when the sun hits the trees.
This next few days are going to be warm enough you can probably leave the covers off. However we have another system moving in right at the beginning of March, so watch for the overnight forecasts in your area.
You are trying to be a good "mom" to your plants so give yourself a pat on the back.