BY ROBERT BURNS
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
COLLEGE STATION â€“ There were varied reports of damage to wheat, forages and fruit and nut crops from the hard freeze on April 15 from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel throughout the Central, Rolling Plains, South Plains and Panhandle regions.
A statewide summary of damage to wheat in those areas is pending. However, Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist for fruits, nuts and vegetable crops at Uvalde, was certain pecan and peach orchards were left mostly unscathed.
A large part of the reason for the lack of damage was due to preventive measures taken by orchard owners and managers, Stein said.
“After the late freezes last year, a lot of people were on guard this year and ready to do whatever they could,â€ he said. “The big thing was watering before the freeze.â€
In 2013, the Texas peach crop was hammered by two exceptionally late freezes, one in late April, and for some areas, another in May. This year, an early March freeze caused some alarm, but most peach varieties had not yet bloomed and buds were tight enough to escape damage, Stein said. In 2013, the extreme drought meant many orchards were stressed before the freeze, making them more susceptible to damage.
Preventive measures can also include applying irrigation water to trees during a freeze, he said.
“You can run water during the time of the freeze,â€ Stein said. “When water goes from a liquid to a solid, itâ€™s going to give off heat. And as long as thatâ€™s happening, itâ€™s not going to get below 32 degrees (at the tree level.)â€
Pecans were also mostly left unharmed, he said.
“There were actually a few trees that were nipped back in a few locations, in the lower spots,â€ Stein said. “The good news is there was only a few primary buds were forced, and there will be secondary buds that will come that will make pecans. But a lot of the primary buds hadnâ€™t forced yet.â€
More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/