‘Primed and Ready’

Horticulturist says recent variable weather likely won’t harm fruit crop

The recent up-and-down weather patterns in Hood River valley yet will not pose any significant impact to developing orchard fruit.

“It was a fairly mild February and things are moving along pretty good,” said horticulturist Steve Castagnoli. “The buds are primed and ready.”

Some freezing temperatures are a minor threat to the buds, but the greater concern for growers is wind combined with cold, he said.

“We had some periods of warm days (this month) and that really got things moving and then last week the cooler weather kind of stopped everything, but it’s not really out of the ordinary,” said Castagnoli, who is with Oregon State University Extension Service in Hood River.

“Our weather in the spring is so variable — it’s part of the mix,” Castagnoli said. “I think at this point we are on track for kind of a normal crop.”

The pear and apple buds “are at a stage where they can kind of sit without any significant harm,” he said. “From here until after bloom it’s more a case of the fruit development, the cells expanding or not actively dividing.

“There are a lot of other things that go into forming the bloom and fruit set, but none of that is being affected by the weather at this time.”

He said the buds are still “relatively hardy,” and that weather forecasts give him optimism.

“We haven’t seen any forecasts for the kind of conditions that would be concerning,” he said.

He cautioned that frost damage and protection are ac concern every year for growers.

“Of course, in the spring you never know what you will get,” he said.

Despite mid-March snowfall in the upper valley, Castagnoli said he is not aware of any active frost protection measures having been taken.

Temperatures dipped as low as 24 in Parkdale in early and mid-March, but in recent weeks the lowest temperatures at the Hood River Experiment Station were 28 degrees on March 9 and 30 degrees on morning of March 19.

Castagnoli said Parkdale is typically a week or two behind the lower valley. As buds have become more developed, thus open to the elements, the more susceptible they become, he explained.

Thus, the slightly delayed upper valley buds “probably have a few degrees more of a buffer than down in the lower valley,” he said.

A “worst-case scenario” would be a cold front that moved in with sustained temperatures of low 20s, according to Castagnoli.

“Because if you have wind and cold temperatures the growers can’t do anything about protecting them,” he said.

“Growers depend on inversion conditions with warmer air that they can mix with their fans down where the buds are.

“If the wind is moving it will blow the warm air out,” he said.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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