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Cold snap could mean trouble for Missouri growers

Dead vs. live peach buds
Dead vs. live peach buds

By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The combination of above normal temperatures in March followed by freezing temperatures this month could have disastrous consequences for Missouri fruit growers.

Temperatures have registered in the mid-twenties across the state fro the past several days. Some parts of Missouri are expecting night time lows in the teens by Saturday that kind of freeze could potentially wipe out fruit crops.

Paul Peters has 500 acres of apples and peaches in west-central Missouri, just about an hour east of Kansas City. He says he's already noticed major damage to his apple blossoms.

Peters says the one-two punch was the above average temperatures in March followed by freezing temperatures so far in April.

"We really didn't cool down at night, I think probably was more of a concern then reaching 60-70 degrees in the daytime," says Peters. "One of my partners hears said he'd never seen an apple blossom in March and this year he did."

According to the Michele Warmund, a horticulturalist with the University of Missouri Agricultural Extension, fruit buds can withstand temperatures as low as 27degrees.

"The real concern is going to be early Saturday morning, that's when the temperatures are supposed to get down as low as 19 degrees in some parts of Missouri and with 19 degrees that will probably eliminate most fruit crops in Missouri."

Warmund cautions that even if frost damage does occur, growers still need to provide trees with regular care or risk below average yields the following year.