58° F
57° F
Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy
64° F
Mostly Cloudy
Mostly Cloudy

Corvallis apple growers keep unseasonable cold at bay

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: May 01 2013 06:34:37 PM MDT
Updated On: May 01 2013 06:41:55 PM MDT

Fruit growers braced for another cold night Wednesday. Mid-20 degree temperatures have been hard on budding trees.

On Tuesday we featured Mountain View Orchards and Distillery's efforts to keep its apple trees as warm as possible. Wednesday morning, NBC Montana went back to the orchard to see how the work went.

Charlie Swanson reported no real damage. It didn't get as cold as he'd feared. Temperatures were from 26 to 29 degrees.

The farmer said at 23 degrees, an orchard grower can expect a 90-percent bloom kill in the stage they are in.

"We didn't receive any bud damage last night," said Swanson, "but we've received bud damage in the prior two weeks."

This cold snap is no July picnic. The Swanson family flooded some of the orchards. Swanson said water keeps trees warmer.

In one orchard block, the Swansons placed several special heaters every 60 to 80 feet. Then, they used propane-driven wind machines among newer trees. They work best during inversions.

"You can get to about 6 or 7 degrees (higher) on a good inversion," said Swanson, "We got about half that last night but it wasn't damaging."

Swanson said consistently cold April temperatures have taken their toll on about 10 percent of the crop. But he still expects an OK year.

"The crop size, as far as diameter might be down a little," said Swanson, "but because some of the bloom will be killed, and that's where you get your biggest fruit. But we believe that will be okay unless we have some more of these temperatures."