Climatic change is becoming a large part of the discussion of fruit hardiness. I have been looking at records this week and found some interesting observations. Here in Vermont we had the wettest year (2011), unprecedented periods of low snow cover (2011, 2012), average higher daytime and lower nighttime temps (2011), latest snow on record (2011), and record highs in mid November (2012). 2012 was the warmest year on record, while having lows in the mid 30’s below zero in 2011. Maple sugar season is now 3 weeks shorter than in the 1960’s. This year (2013) Vt. State legislative joint hearings are being held on the impacts of climate change on business (including but not exclusive to agriculture). The spring temperature swings in the last two years have been devastating to fruit growing in the northeast.
We will constantly remind growers that climatic change can lead to erratic local conditions in temperature, precipitation and other influencing factors on hardiness like snow cover and wind. Temperature swings and early thaws are normally far more damaging than noteworthy low (or high) temperatures.