All of our warm weather has had Mother Nature springing to life ahead of schedule – many plants and flowers are already budding and blooming. But area fruit growers are now keeping a very close eye on the forecasts, because a night or two of frost could be devastating. There are thousands of busy bees hard at work at Stone’s Apple Barn in East Moline. They’ve pollinated about half of Vince Bull’s crop of fruit trees, and now the concern is a hard frost may devastate the remaining apple blossoms.
“Yeah we’re nervous, but, we’re better off than if we were in full bloom,” says Bull.
Bull says about half his crop has already bloomed, been pollinated, and is now beginning to morph into this year’s fruit. It’s the earliest that’s ever happened — more than a month ahead of when this normally occurs.
“We’ve never ever in the 35 years we’ve been doing orchardry have had this happen this early,” adds Bull.
The blossoms that haven’t been pollinated are the most vulnerable to frost. Bull says right now a long frost could destroy a big chunk of his crop. But you may surprised to learn what he considers a “long” frost.
“Three or four hours. If it got down that cold below 30 for four hours you start showing some severe damage,” he says.
Right now the biggest worry is the apple trees still in bloom. All of the peaches, pear, and plum trees are beginning to produce fruit, and if we can avoid frost Bull says he expects this to a very good year on just about every front.
“If we keep the hail away and we keep the frost away I promise you a beautiful crop this year. It’s absolutely gorgeous,” Bulls says.
At this point he’s done just about everything he can do, and for the next month or so it’s up to a few higher powers to do the rest of the work.
“We’re going to be by the bedside saying ‘Hey Lord, 33-34 I can live with lets keep it no colder than that.’ And you tell that weather man you keep that thermostat up okay?”