Will warm temperatures impact gardens and crops?

Posted at 7:04 PM, Dec 16, 2015

Warm weather we have received lately has caused a few side effects to plants. One viewer event sent 7 First Alert meteorologist Autumn Lewandowski a picture of a tree with spring blossoms on it!

Experts say that is not necessarily anything for gardeners to worry about right now. Most plants with an early bloom only have a branch or two.

Peter Schmit, the Vice President of Operations for Elbers Landscaping, says gardeners should keep an eye on temperatures. The biggest impact would come if temperatures rapidly drop off.

"If you get a sudden cold snap and there's still moisture up in the branches, that could lead to damage," Schmit explained.

While most plants are dormant, Schmit says some are not, due to the warm temperatures, especially those by the lake.

If the weather stays this way, there could be more bugs in the spring. Schmit says in places that have not yet had a hard frost, gardeners should not even mulch.

However, a warm winter could be very beneficial for gardeners.

"If we stay in zone five, which which is a bit warmer," Schmit said, "then some flowers will be much more successful next spring. You'll get a big flower."

Warm weather has also brought a benefit to crop owners. Melinda Vizcarra, a partner with Becker Farms and Vizcarra's Vineyards, says that work usually done in the spring has been completed early. However, Vizcarra says crop owners are keeping a close eye on temperatures and the weather pattern of winter into spring.

An early spring is actually bad for several crops. Apple trees actually determine its buds for the following season in July. A growth inhibitor within the plant keeps the bud from growing. Cold temperatures kill the inhibitor, so that when temperatures warm up the bud can grow.

However, this means that an early spring means those buds grow too soon.

"They flower, but then inevitably there will be a cold night, where the temperatures drop down to 25," Vizcarra said. "And if there's a frost of that magnitude, the buds fall off we lose the whole crop."

In Becker Farms 36 years in business, that has only happened twice -- most recently in 2012. So far, this winter reminds Vizcarra of that year.

"We could walk down the rows and not be able to fill a basket," Vizcarra said.

However, it's still early, so Vizcarra hopes for a good year. She adds that a mild winter would not be bad if spring stays cool.

The ideal time for crops to bloom would be in May. Even a few weeks early could hurt crops.




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