Thursday, April 12, 2012

Freeze On The Farm

This shot of on of my flame azalea's says it all. The warm spell we have been experiencing has finally come to an end and reality has set in. After a month of temperatures 10 degrees or more above average, freezing temperatures once again invaded the region. This is not, and I repeat, not uncommon. ( clicking on any picture will produce a larger image)Another member of the azalea family that was hit hard on our farm was our blueberries. All 300 bushes were in full bloom and receiving ample pollination from our native bees such as the mason bee, the sweat bee, the true bumble bee, and the minor bees. It appears now that this freeze has severely damaged this years crop.
Now it is time to look at what exactly a hard wind and freeze will do to cold hardy hops, or so I thought. The wind just so happened to coincide with my first stringing of my vines. It relentlessly blew up to 35 mph. for two days breaking the tender vines and shaking them loose from the twine. The above photo shows vines broken and laying on the ground.
To top it all off, the next blow to the tender ladies on the vine was a temperature drop down to 29 degrees. Although most of the leaves were not bothered, the tender vine tips were frozen, rendering the growth of that vine prohibitive.
If vines are broken or the tips damaged, that vine will cease to grow vertically, causing the vine to branch into two vines below the damaged area. These vines do not produce as much, putting undo stress on the plant.
Finally as shot of wind and freeze damage taken today, Thursday April 12. All is not over. It is expected to get below freezing again tonight. No doubt, many of my hops will be starting late on the twine operation. We can now at least see, if a delayed vine will produce more hops, causing them to bloom later. In my opinion, I don't think so. Time will tell.
The life of a farmer is totally dependent on the one thing we cannot control, the weather!

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