Orchards ok after January storm

February 25, 2012

While majestic firs tumbled and mighty oaks snapped like small twigs, most Hood River fruit trees remained relatively unscathed during the mid-January cataclysmic ice storm.

"I don't see a lot of overall damage," said Tim Pearson, field representative at Stadlelman's, "mostly a limb here and a tree there. There were isolated incidents where some growers suffered a significant amount of damage - mainly in the Dee area."

Concurring with Pearson, Jean Godfrey, Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers Association executive director, noted that she had reports of serious tree loss from growers in Dee and the Binns Hill area.

"They lost quite a few trees - maybe about 10 percent - but when you look at the cost to replace those trees and the loss of production from downed mature trees, we are still taking about real impact," Godfrey said.

"We are working to collect information on those losses and passing it on to Dave Meriwether at the county. He is working with FEMA and we'll see if there will be help for our growers," she said.

On the positive side, Godfrey noted that her field representative reports from around the valley confirm that temperatures during the storm did not get cold enough to cause bud damage.

"The buds were dormant and temperatures weren't that cold," said Pearson. "If buds were encased in ice, they were staying at a steady 32 degrees. When it gets into the teens and below, that's when people get worried."

"We are about to head into frost season, though," said Godfrey. That is when emerging buds might suffer if temperatures dip again.

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Lawnmower torches Arbor Vitae on Portland Drive

The riding lawn mower driven by Norma Cannon overheated and made contact with dry arbor vitae owned by Lee and Norma Curtis, sending more than a dozen of the tightly-packed trees up in flames. The mower, visible at far right, was totaled. No one was injured; neighbors first kept the fire at bay with garden hoses and Westside and Hood River Fire Departments responded and doused the fire before it reached any structures. Westside Fire chief Jim Trammell, in blue shirt, directs firefighters. The video was taken by Capt. Dave Smith of Hood River Fire Department. Enlarge

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