Warmer Winter Temperatures Have Not Hurt Fruit Crops

A Purdue University news release last week stated that, “After two months of unusually warm conditions throughout Indiana, state climatologists based at Purdue University believe temperatures will slowly return to seasonal norms over the next month, which is good news for fruit growers and home gardeners concerned that their plants might be emerging too quickly.

“‘There is a lot more weather to come before we know what the fruit crop outlook will be, but as of right now things are in good shape and, in fact, a bit more chilling is needed for some fruit crops,’ said Bruce Bordelon, professor of horticulture and Purdue Extension viticulture and small fruit specialist.

Bordelon advised growers to be patient, giving trees, bushes and vines more time to get their winter rest.

The release noted that, “Fruit production is an increasingly important part of Indiana’s agriculture industry. The state ranks 10th nationally in blueberry production at 3.6 million pounds annually and produces 26 million pounds of apples per year, ranking 20th in the country. Together, Indiana apple and blueberry crops have a combined value of more than $13 million.

“In addition, Indiana produces about 3 million pounds of peaches each year and is home to a thriving wine grape industry with more than 85 wineries and vineyards statewide.”

And the release added that, “Peter Hirst, professor of horticulture and Purdue Extension commercial fruit tree specialist, says so far temperatures have not been warm long enough to threaten the state’s fruit crop.

“‘We really haven’t had that much warm weather,’ Hirst said. ‘If we were to have another week with temperatures in the 70s, that would be cause for concern. Another saving grace is that the cool down we are expecting will be moderate and gradual. And we really haven’t had any extended periods of extreme cold this winter so fruit buds are in good condition.'”

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