FROST ATTACK

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Peter Warne, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. Peter Warne

    Peter Warne Junior Member

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    Our area suffered some nights going down to -6C in the last couple of weeks when we happened to be away on a family emergency trip to Melbourne. All of the old locals said they had NEVER seen a frost on that scale - totally unseen and unheard of in these parts. We got back to find all of our tropical and sub-tropical fruit trees looking destroyed (mangoes, bananas, custard apple, wampi, lychee, longan avocado, tamarind, pawpaw), all of the 40 or so native trees we planted in the last couple of months destroyed, some of our beautiful and expensive bamboos looking destroyed (most painfully, two new timor blacks, which we had just got going and were thriving).

    Oh, devastation and woe! All the love and attention and all the money we spent on them gone in a couple of nights. I s'pose we must remember that we are working in a natural system, and, even without global warming, extreme events can always happen - nobody is spared!

    The temperate climate trees naturally were not affected, so all is not lost, and the citrus trees look as healthy as ever.

    I am wondering if there is a hope in hell of any of those poor destroyed looking things putting out new shoots in spring and coming back. Does anyone have any experience of this kind of situation?

    Peter
     
  2. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    g'day peter,

    sounds bad hey mate? did you have the plants heavily mulched?

    if so then there is a chance because the roots would have been kept warmer that the plants may come back? you will have to wait until into the warmer weather to see if they will, only catch is grafted trees may sprout back below the graft, which may not be desirable?

    citrus would have loved the frost, most frost sensitive trees can become hardier once they reach a height of say 2meters, at 1 meter we found our avo's weren't affected either.

    len
     
  3. Peter Warne

    Peter Warne Junior Member

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    Len - thanks for your thoughts. We've got more frost predicted for next Sunday to Wednesday, but since all the frost-sensitive trees and plants have already been obliterated, I guess there's not much more to do about it.
     
  4. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    g'daypeter,

    don't give up hope cover as many of the trees with a layer of mulch hay over the tops of them just incase there is some life still there? leave the banana's stand and as with all other plants give a good cover of mulch up to 20"s to out beyond their drip zones.

    a bit of optimism there but you never know hey? with the grafted plants wrap about 10 pages of newspaper around and above the graft could also help.

    yes been looking at the online charts winter isn't over yet!!

    len
     
  5. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    Peter, I'm with Len. Don't rush to give up on everything.

    I'm in the U.S., where temps like that hit every winter. Sometimes it depends how wet they were when the cold hit, or how dry. Some bananas are actually hardy to those temps (not all, I'm afraid), and so are some bamboos. I have a bamboo in a POT above ground that gets a little dry looking in winter, then comes roaring back when the weather warms up.

    Just sit back and wait for spring. Mother Nature may have a few surprises for you.

    Good luck!

    Sue
     
  6. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    I agree too. There was a big freeze in lower NZ in the 90s and people thought that it had killed alot of trees including natives. But many came back after a bit. Obviously that is a different climate than yours but I'd be taking the more optimistic route until you know for sure one way or other.

    We've had frosts this year (east coastal South Island) that have burnt plants I've never seen have problems with frost before. I guess I need to be thinking about this in the long term now, that climate change is going to extend the frost range beyond that which we know how to deal with.
     
  7. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Peter :)

    Here's hoping that some of the affected plants will recover. Only time will tell I guess, and as such I wouldn't go ripping them out just yet. Nor would I cut of the affected (burnt) foliage. Leave that in situ just in case of subsequent frosts.

    In our part of the world, we can get up to 60 frosts-per-year (with many occurring on consecutive nights). All part of the fun of trying to glean a feed.

    Good luck with your future endeavours, Mark.
     
  8. kathleenmc

    kathleenmc Junior Member

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    I feel for you Pete....it is hard losing plants after so much effort! :(

    I'm wondering if you used pioneer plants or guilds to help protect any of the plantings? Acacia species are terrific for helping to protect 'new babies' They can be harvested for nitrogen mulch and then felled when their use is no longer needed.

    Kathleen
     
  9. Jez

    Jez Junior Member

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    Darn, that's a real shame Peter, I know you put a lot into them...commiserations on the loss. :(

    I suspect the banana, pawpaw and your bamboos will reshoot, not sure on the rest.

    FWIW, Kathleen's advice above is very sound IMO (if you hadn't done similar already and are doing replanting).

    Also, don't forget the Aztecs used chinampa systems to deal with exactly the same problem you're facing - a mostly sub-tropical climate prone to occasional heavy frosts.

    Another technique (rather situation dependant) is to have a temperature controlled auto-watering system...when it gets to frost temps the sprinklers come on and go some way to nursing the trees through those hours of danger.

    And of course, there's the el cheapo method of putting plastic bottles full of warm water all around the place...but it's very labour intensive and no help if you're away.

    I hope you do get some regrowth and that you can find a way around the frost in the future.
     
  10. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Peter, we had an unusually cold winter as well, and my plantings are vulnerable to frosts, and although they all got their leaves and some branches burned, they budded back out by late spring. Some I thought were real gonners, but even early summer some were finally budding out, even the vines and lantanas that were fried to the ground.

    Don't give up on them, they probably won't be the first to come back, but unless the ground froze, there's a good chance they will. Mulch the roots, don't water and encourage any new growth yet. And if you have any fans, even house fans, set them running all night if the temps drop low again, keep the air circulating, it will help. Also, do cover the ones that got it the worst, they are tougher than you think.

    Despite the burns, I got the best crops of fruit this year I've had in a long time, so there's good and bad. I hope it turns out to be just cosmetic :)
     
  11. caldera

    caldera Junior Member

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    [​IMG]

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    Yeppo, we got the biggest frost in living memory ...

    -7

    same story peter, the south-west side of our Orchid is absolutely frazzled

    it really effected my dad, understandably

    but that is life, that is natures pulse ... LIFE ~ DEATH ~ RENEWAL

    Its been a few weeks now and it is still green beneath the bark

    the stonefruit are flowering and spring is on the Horizon

    life is resilient
     
  12. Jez

    Jez Junior Member

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    Damn, commiserations to you and the family too Caldera. :(
     
  13. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Peter, I forgot to mention.....do NOT trim off dead leaves, branches, tips until all chance of frost is gone. They will help protect what's underneath. It's messy, and it's hard to leave on, but you will be rewarded. :)
     

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