Spring Freeze Damage Resources

April snow and cold snap in Ohio

An unusually cold airmass swept through much of the eastern U.S. between April 21-23, 2021 behind a slow-moving cold front. A low-pressure system, traveling along this front, brought a widespread swath of 3-6” of snow across northern and western portions of Ohio (Fig. 1). Many daily snowfall records fell, as snow events greater than 1” are rare after April 15th.

Perhaps more concerning was the threat of sub-freezing conditions statewide. According to NOAA, March 2021 was the 12th warmest March on record for Ohio (1895-present). This has led to accelerated growing degree day accumulation and increased susceptibility to late-season freeze conditions. Nearly statewide Freeze Warnings were in effect all three nights of this event. Temperatures dropped as low as the upper 20s across portions of west-central Ohio on the morning of April 21 (Fig. 1). Though it was forecast to be even colder for the morning of April 22, additional convective snow showers late on Tuesday provided leftover moisture at the surface; and combined with a few clouds, temperatures remained warmer than originally forecast. Still, lows dropped into the upper 20s for a couple of hours across the interior counties of the northwest, while much of the state remained in the 30-34°F range. Only the southeastern counties of the state dropped into the lower 30s during the morning of April 23. The cool pattern will remain through the weekend with a few showers, and frost is possible again on Monday morning. However, temperatures next week look to rebound nicely, with highs in the 65–85-degree range (north to south) and overnight lows in the 50s and 60s.

Weather Map

Figure 1: National snowfall analysis depicting estimated snowfall for the 24-hour period ending 4/21/2021, courtesy of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. Overnight low temperatures for April 21-23, 2021 from the RMTA-RU, courtesy of Pivotal Weather (https://home.pivotalweather.com).

Aaron B. Wilson wilson.1010@osu.edu 
OSU Extension | State Climate Office of Ohio
Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center
The Ohio State University 

Active Frost and Freeze Protection for Berry Crops

I have seen a few frost and freeze events during my career. Unfortunately, these extreme weather events seem to be growing in frequency. It is disheartening to see the frost/freeze-injured flowers and subsequent fruit yield reduction, or even a total loss of fruits.

Read More

Wilted Buckeye Leaves May Not Be Freeze Damage

Temperatures have dropped into the dumpster for a second time this spring throughout Ohio.  Of course, it’s spring and it’s Ohio.

Round one turned beautiful magnolia blooms into brown mush in southwest Ohio.  Impacts from this second round are yet to be determined but it’s likely some trees and shrubs suffered frost/freeze damage that will eventually be revealed with symptoms ranging from blasted flowers to wilted, blackened leaves, to twig dieback. 

Read More

Early budbreak in Ohio – vines at risk again for spring freeze damage

From Ashtabula to Cincinnati, the growing season is here. Usually, budbreak is a stratified process over several weeks from the south to the north, but not this year. An unusually warm spring has heralded in the start of the season in an uncanny uniform fashion and without regard to cultivar or geographical region. This year’s budbreak pattern, which is anywhere from days to weeks ahead of historical averages, can largely be attributed to the abnormally warm, dry conditions that increase in intensity from south to north.

Read More

Pasture (Frothy) Bloat; Beware when grazing legumes!

Bloat is often classified as being either pasture or feedlot bloat. It is more accurate to identify it as being either free-gas bloat or frothy bloat. Frothy bloat normally occurs in cattle eating legumes or lush grasses as well as in feedlot cattle. Free-gas bloat is less common on pasture or in the feedlot.

Read More

Good Idea? Bad Idea? Planting Corn and Soybean in Early April

Planting when conditions are adequate (soil temperatures above 50°F and greater than 45% plant available water content) is recommended for corn and soybean. This year, these conditions are occurring sooner than normal. At a two-inch depth, average soil temperature ranged from 48 to 51°F between April 1 and April 7 (Table 1). In general, early planting helps increase the yield potential of both corn and soybean. For soybean, each day delay in planting after May 1 results in a yield decrease of 0.25 to 1 bu/acre/day. Additionally, there is also the real observation of the last few years that if you don’t get planted early, rains in May could prevent planting all together (thinking of you, 2019). While there are benefits of early planting, there are also risks that should be considered (especially if the weather turns cool).

Read More

Freeze Symptoms and Associated Yield Loss in Soft Red Winter Wheat

In the soft red winter wheat growing regions of the eastern U.S., mid-winter warm temperatures accelerated wheat development, exposing wheat that transitioned to reproductive stages to cold temperatures during the late spring. Wheat plants can be damaged by frost (low temperatures cause damage but do not result in fully frozen tissue), freezing of the plant tissue, or a combination of both. The magnitude of freeze damage depends on: 1) temperature 2) duration of temperature 3 ) wheat growth stage.

Read More

Assessing cold injuries to blackberry flower buds

Blackberry growers may get a false sense of relief when they do not see any damage to the leaves or the exterior of the flower buds. The record snow and low temperatures we experienced during the week of April 19 to April 23 may have caused damage to flowers without growers’ knowledge. The leaves on the blackberry bushes may look okay. However, growers may want to sample the flowers by cutting at least ten flower buds open to see what is inside. If the center is black, the pistil or the female part of the flower buds is dead. No fruit will form from the flower buds with the dead pistil. If the center looks great, then everything is good!

Read More

April 2021 Freeze/Frost Event in at OSU South Centers in Piketon, Ohio

At The CFAES South Centers in Piketon, Ohio, Berry plants experienced three consecutive nights of freezes or frosts in April 2021. On April 21st, 22nd and 23rd, low temperatures reached 32.4, 29.9, and 25.9°F, respectively.  As of Thursday, April 22nd, most of our berry crops in our research plots appeared to have made it through with little to no damage.

Read More