The temperatures this fall have truly been harsh when compared to the average. Fortunately, September and October gifted us with a nice, gradual decline in lows, allowing the plants to be better prepared for the deep freeze. This gentle slide before the bottom fell out prevented many of our plants from experiencing major winter injury.Some of the more borderline plants may have some tip dieback from the cold blast, but we are not anticipated major crop damage anywhere on the nursery.
Perhaps the most significant issue we are dealing with as a result of the Arctic air (I refuse to say the P. V. term) is the leaf retention. I speculate this phenomenon is due to the lack of moisture in the "freeze dried" leaves and does not allow proper abscission.
Normally we have to manually remove leaves on about 1/3 of the plants we lay down and cover in straw. This year we are essentially at 100%. There is not any negative impact on the plants, the leaves just need to be removed so they do not rot, causing stem injury during the winter.
All in all the beauty of this colder-than-normal fall is the temperatures staying consistently low over time. This is allows the plants to remain fully dormant during a period that can have many temperature swings.
By Ben Cecil, Operations Manager, Loma Vista Nursery