The years of effort, waiting, work, waiting, sweat, labour, waiting, inputs, waiting, are, if the weather cooperates, going to result in some reasonable quantity of fruit this harvest season. A survey of the main orchard found at least 51 apple trees with fruit blossoms. Several varieties and all three root stock types (bud9, m111 and antonovka) have fruit buds. Last year, for comparison, we could count on one hand the number of trees with fruit buds, and we harvested all of 6 apples. Some of the older trees in the nursery bed, aka the Strawberry Patch orchard, also have fruit buds, for the second year. Those trees produced a few hundred Hewe’s Virginia Crab apples.
The Front Range is expecting a winter storm with temperatures expected to reach the low 20’s Fahrenheit, 3 to 5 below 0 Celsius. This event will likely cause significant bud and blossom death in fruit trees in this area, as well as to other fruits and vegetables. How much damage is determine by the specific plant (apple, peach, grape, spinach, etc) and the development stage. There are methods to limit or prevent damage, and we recommend you do some research and apply as appropriate/reasonable to your specific plants, location and resources. Mark Longstroth with Michigan State University Extension has a couple of tables with critical temperatures for tree fruits, which you can find here: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/freeze_damage_depends_on_tree_fruit_stage_of_development
This weather event is not expected to out right kill any apple trees on the Front Range, but local conditions and the health of individual trees vary, so it is possible. We will keep an eye on our trees around Boulder County and certainly take note of this event.