Weather - Winter Injury in Plants

August 6, 2014

The following resources are aimed at helping people respond to winter injury in plants. To jump to a specific section, click the links below:

Causes of winter injury

Extent of cold injury to landscape plants from the “Polar Vortex - Impacts from the outbreak of Arctic air won’t be fully evident until spring and will likely vary across Michigan.

Winter weather update for 2013-2014 -  While milder weather and some moderation are expected in the short term, medium and longer lead forecast guidance suggests a general continuation of colder than normal temperatures.

How cold is too cold for Michigan fruit crops? - Winter injury normally occurs from three possible causes. 

Great Lakes ice cover: Setting records during the Winter of 2013-2014 - Thousands of years ago, the Great Lakes formed from ice, and ice continues to have a significant influence on each of the lakes.

What lies beneath: Ice? - Ice sheets have formed on many golf courses this winter and have the potential to kill turfgrass.

Ice and putting green survival update- Preliminary reports indicate that putting greens may have been damaged by ice sheets this winter.

Winter cold hardiness in Michigan fruit crops - Michigan fruit plants are well adapted to withstand a Michigan winter.

Update on winter injury to landscape trees for 2012-13  -  Winter was long but produced mainly garden variety problems for landscape trees.

Mild winter weather provides “good news/bad news” scenario - Warmer than normal winter may set up possibility for increased late-winter damage to landscape trees and shrubs.

Will we see a lot of winter injury during the spring of 2008? - Based on temperature patterns so far, we wouldn’t expect to see major issues with freezing injury. Heavy snowfall, on the other hand, could raise some concerns. 

Integrated road salt management program to mitigate damage to blueberries in West Michigan - A 2011 survey indicates some progress has been made to reduce injury to blueberries, but more improvements are needed.

Freeze damage depends on tree fruit stage of development -  Damage from freezes depends on the development stage of the fruit crop. These tables allow you to quickly asses the risk for your tree fruit crops

Winter snow cover leading to increased rabbit damage for fruit and landscape plants -  Signs to look for and management considerations for rabbit damage to fruit and landscape plants.

Animal feeding damage and the landscape - What to do when deer, rabbits and mice are winter “pruning” your bushes.

Your plants and winter animal damage - Be prepared when the short, fuzzy critters such as rabbits and voles come to feed.

Winter snows encourage rodent damage -Heavy and consistent snow cover is the perfect recipe for chewing damage by a variety of rodents, especially rabbits. The snow cover keeps rabbits from being able to forage what little green is available underneath and makes a natural ladder for climbing into the crown of shrubs like burning bush and others. 

Winter Protection

Preserve landscapes and gardens by discouraging deer - Prevent landscape pests like deer, woodchucks and rabbits from damaging your landscape or garden with these tips.

Build a better windscreen for your evergreens this winter  - Just say “no” to winter injury of your evergreens by giving them some protection

Drought conditions in the fall can damage evergreens in the winter - Protecting evergreens from dry conditions now can mean healthier plants come spring.

Tips for preparing landscape trees and shrubs for winter  - Fall is a good time for homeowners to inspect trees and shrubs in their landscape and to plan for some preventative maintenance to minimize problems that can occur over the winter.

Protecting evergreens from winter injury - Evergreen plants often experience injury in winter as harsh winds pull moisture out of leaves that cannot be replenished.

Preparing landscapes for winter - Landscape plants in Michigan face an array of environmental challenges, but it’s safe to say that winter is the toughest season for environmental, or abiotic, injuries. This is largely because there are so many different ways that winter conditions can injure plants.

Points to ponder as you prepare nursery plants for winter protection - Hardening plants or providing dormancy requires many conditions to occur all at the same time within the plant. Nursery practices like fertilizer applications, irrigation, pruning and light levels all contribute to how successful plants will overwinter and avoid winter injury.

Landscape Home and Yards

Winter tree and shrub injury: What are the signs? - Look for signs of winter damage on trees, shrubs and perennials; plan your home landscape management strategies accordingly.

Shrubs breaking down? Recovering the landscape from Old Man Winter - The crushing weight of snow and ice on landscape trees and shrubs leaves lasting damage.

Winter injury, a sure sign of spring - Winter injuries are among the most common form of environmental problems that we see in Michigan landscapes year in and year out. 

Damage from cold temperatures beginning to show up- As the weather warms, some conifers have begun to turn brown due to winter injury.

Winter damage to lawns: Molds, moles and voles - The winter of 2013-14 was certainly one of the most challenging any of us have ever experienced, and lawns emerged from winter with some bumps and bruises.

Common suspects involved in winter landscape damage - Identify these pesky, winter, landscape pests by the location of the damage they cause.

Sizing up winter injury - Look for signs of winter damage to trees and shrubs as you start your spring yard clean-up.

Why are my Douglas fir turning brown?  - Winter injury or infection from needlecast diseases could be turning your Douglas fir brown.

Commercial Landscape and Nursery

Update on winter injury to landscape trees for 2012-13 - Winter was long but produced mainly garden variety problems for landscape trees.

Why are trees and shrubs so slow to leaf out this spring? - Cool spring temperatures and winter injury combined to produce late leaf-out of landscape trees and shrubs.

Winter injury continues to show up in commercial nurseries - The excessively low temperatures and long duration of this past winter caused freezing, desiccation or frost damage on 23 species of evergreen and deciduous species in West Michigan nurseries.

General Agriculture

Alfalfa that appeared to have winter injury is now being confirmed as winterkill - As temperatures improve and green up continues, alfalfa plants can be evaluated for winterkill.

Ice and water may lead to winter wheat crop injury - Winter wheat likely survived the record cold winter temperatures, but concentrated sheets of ice and standing water may pose a risk within some fields.

Ice-sheeting and water ponding can damage wheat-  Some tips for estimating winter injury to wheat from flooding and ice-sheeting.

Assessing your alfalfa stands for winter injury - Let the spring concert begin, because knowing the extent of injury due may determine if you keep your alfalfa stands for another year.

Winter injury in rye and other cover crops - Winter injury in cover crops is a common phenomenon and varies with species and growth stage. 

How much winter injury did alfalfa receive from recent low temperatures?

- Apr 26, 2007 ... The potential for winter injury is always difficult to predict, but we continue to try to do it anyway. Whether our predictions turn out right or wrong, ...

Dealing with winter injury in alfalfa fields  -The potential for winter injury is always difficult to predict, but we continue to try to do it anyway. Whether our predictions turn out right or wrong, perhaps there is benefit in getting us to think about it and into alfalfa fields to see how they’re progressing.

 Fruit production

Harsh winter for wine grape buds - Sub-zero temperatures in February and March of 2014 may have affected vineyards in Michigan’s Grand Traverse region.

Pruning severely winter-damaged grapevines in Michigan -  Many grape cultivars that normally survive Michigan winters with little to no damage may have sustained extended levels of damage. Once the damage is assessed, the challenge is to take the necessary steps for the 2014 growing season.

Southwest Michigan fruit regional report – April 1, 2014 - After a cold winter, fruit crops in Southwest Michigan are off to a slow start.

Identifying sunscald in your chestnut orchard -  As chestnut trees around Michigan begin to break dormancy, growers should keep an eye out for winter injury caused by sunscald.

Southwest Michigan fruit regional report – April 29, 2014 - Apricot bloom has begun in Southwest Michigan.

Southeast Michigan fruit regional report – April 29, 2014 - Spring has stalled again with little growth in fruit crops for the last week.

Southeast Michigan fruit regional report – May 20, 2014 - Many fruit insect and disease pests have made an appearance in the last week in Southeast Michigan.

Southwest Michigan fruit regional report – May 27, 2014 - Plum curculio egglaying should be starting. Blueberries are full bloom across the region and winter injury becomes easier to see as affected plants show poor growth.

Southwest Michigan fruit regional report – June 3, 2014 - Fruit grew rapidly under last week’s summer-like conditions. Fruit load varies a lot for most fruit across the region.

Southeast Michigan fruit regional report – June 3, 2014 - Later than normal strawberry harvest is expected to begin mid-June and primary apple scab season is winding down, but continues.

Southeast Michigan fruit regional report – June 10, 2014 -  Strawberry harvest is underway at a few farms in southern Michigan and expected to begin later this week at others. Dry soils in most of the region need irrigation, especially strawberries.

Tree death and dieback are evident in apple following Michigan's hard winter -  Winter-killed and winter-injured apple trees exhibiting dieback symptoms have been observed throughout Michigan. Dead and dying apple trees and branches should be removed and burned as this tissue can be colonized by secondary fungal pathogens.

Fertilizing winter-injured blueberries - Some Michigan blueberry fields are showing quite a bit of winter injury to buds and twigs. This raises several questions about cold injury and fertilization.

Winter injury in sweet cherry in northwest Michigan, 2008  - Winter damage has been observed in sweet cherries in the northwest as well as other regions of the state. Growers first noticed this damage because trees had no bloom. The trees look brownish and relatively bare compared to those with a true full bloom. 

Winter injury in sweet cherries in northwest Michigan, 2006 - Even though the winter was quite mild, some sweet cherries in northwest Michigan are exhibiting significant winter dieback. Most of the affected trees show whole or partial limb death and often include death of last year’s terminal growth. 


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