Has spring sprung in Kingman? Or is a blast of cold coming?
Local nursery owner David Tribbett said people shouldn’t get used to the warm termperatures just yet. (EVE HANNA/Miner)
3/12/2014 6:02:00 AM
KINGMAN - Unseasonably warm temperatures caused trees to spring to life early this year, but according to recorded weather patterns, early warm-ups are often followed by a final blast of freezing weather in late April.
This has area gardeners wondering if winter has run its course, how to protect trees should winter return and when's the best time to plant new trees.
"That's the $64 million dollar question we all want the answer to, isn't it?" said David Tribbett, owner of Desert Sage Nursery.
According to Tribbett, we're experiencing a "fake spring" - but trees can be planted year-round in this area, needing a modified watering schedule and good plant husbandry, which includes ample water, fertilizer and spraying to prevent pests and extend the life of the tree.
"People can take steps to prevent fruit drop. It's possible, but usually not feasible," Tribbett said of protecting new growth if winter returns to the area.
"Christmas lights or, better yet, a couple of light bulbs in fruit trees, particularly apricots and peaches, can help when nights drop below freezing."
Tarps can be used to cover small trees at night, but Tribbett cautions against leaving any cover on during the daytime as doing so will burn the leaves.
He also said that the soft new growth that's being seen now will turn black and die off after a false spring freeze.
However, the latent buds around the sides will go ahead and grow.
Although frozen new growth can result in unsightly, deformed branches, Tribbett says the real danger to the tree is due to "environmental stress."
"It can take an entire year for the plant to put out new growth and the negative side effect of its struggle is that insects attack weakened trees," said Tribbett.
According to the Farmer's Almanac, March will be sunny and cool with below-average precipitation, followed by a warmer and rainier-than-normal April and May.
The National Weather Service predicts temperatures this week will range from highs in the 60s to low 70s and lows in the mid- to low-40s.
Tribbett cautions against using fertilizers before April.
"Even though plants are waking up, don't fertilize too early in the season because then you're encouraging new growth that may get frozen," he said.