Buds Too Soon!

Apricot buds late December 2016.

Apricot buds late December 2016.

Buds Too Soon

There was a time in my life when a warm day in late December was a gift. Not that I don't appreciate being able to spend time outside in sunshine so late in the year. What I don't like to see is the ongoing record warm winter temperatures coaxing buds out of my compact fruit trees like my apples and apricots way too early.

Missouri's weather in 2016 continued to break records all year. It's been part of a trend I started to notice in my garden in the 1990s, slowly at first. In the last decade or so, record hot summer weather has been more frequent, impacting plants, trees and wildlife.

The top part of plants and trees have withered in the punishing heat. I have tried to keep roots soaked, hoping to pull them through the harsh conditions. Wildlife have also been impacted. Twice in that decade squirrels and birds have turned to my fruit trees for food and moisture.

Now this winter so far, weather has turned unusually mild. Bulbs are starting to pop out of the ground far too early; most need between 8-12 weeks  of cold before they can grown greenery and buds to bloom.

More importantly, my compact fruit trees are also showing significant buds forming. Once cold weather sets in again, those buds will freeze and another season will go by without flowers, and more importantly, pollen for my bees.

Four-year old compact apricot tree forming buds late December due to warm weather.

Four-year old compact apricot tree forming buds late December due to warm weather.

If these conditions are setting in on my fruit trees, I wonder what is happening to commercial fruit producers who have much more to loose than I do.

For once, I find myself wishing winter would stay cold for a solid few weeks so my fruit trees stay dormant.