Spring snow: Will April snow damage fruit trees?
Many Utahans woke up Tuesday to a different springtime view — a blanket of snow blanketing blossoming fruit trees, flowers and other signs of warmth from the past few weeks.
The scene at the Utah Capitol, for example, was a far cry from Friday’s 70-degree weather. A fresh layer of snow and ice blanketed the popular cherry blossoms surrounding the building, though that didn’t deter some from taking family portraits there. the National Weather Service reports about an inch of snow fell in the area overnight.
“Welcome spring to Utah. You can have all four seasons in one day, which we’ve had quite a bit this year,” said Andy Stevenson, general manager of the J&J Garden Center in Layton.
But what does Utah’s sudden cold spell mean for the health of those trees or your trees back home, especially after an early start to spring? It depends on where the tree is in the budding process and how much snow has fallen, Stevenson explained.
He said the snow “usually doesn’t hurt too much”, but it depends on two variables.
First, the greatest damage can occur when a tree’s leaves have already formed beyond the budding stage. That’s because heavy, wet snow can “certainly break off branches and fall off” a tree, Stevenson said.
The Weather Service reports that there were thousands of power outages overnight, particularly in southern Salt Lake and northern Utah counties. This is also where most of the snow in the valley ended up overnight. About half a foot of snow fell in the Daybreak region of southern Jordan, according to the weather service.
It also happened when a spring storm hit the Wasatch Front valleys in March 2019. Hundreds of trees were eventually damaged and thousands of residents lost power due to downed branches. As long as the second wave of this week’s storm doesn’t dump overwhelming amounts of snow, trees in the valley unscathed overnight should be fine.
The second issue relates to people using their fruit trees to grow fruit and not so much as deciduous shade trees. The snow itself may not cause a problem, but there can be a problem when it gets very cold and freezes those flowers and buds.
“If it freezes that, you can get a very low yield, as far as fruit goes this coming season,” Stevenson said. “We have seen in the past. It’s really the downfall of the moment – it’s supposed to get really good.
There really isn’t much you can do to protect large trees, but small trees can be protected with either a large sheet of plastic or a tarp, especially at the base of the tree, a- he added. Proper pruning also contributes to a tree’s health; however, it is something he advises people to do after the cold weather to avoid unintended damage.
Snow is a good thing overall, although it can be damaging to some trees. He pointed out that trees and plants get “new hits” of humidity just as they emerge from dormancy. It also increases snow accumulation that drains into the water that Utahns use on their trees and plants all summer.
“Having all this snow and rain at this time of year – honestly, it’s awesome,” Stevenson said.
Contributor: Aimee Cobabe