Brushy Mountain orchardists are bracing for the possibility of significant peach and apple crop damage from a spring freeze late this week.
The National Weather Service forecast for Wilkes County calls for lows around 25 with wind Thursday night and early Friday morning.
Lows around 27 are expected Friday night and early Saturday morning, with less wind. Highs are expected in the upper 40s Thursday and low 50s Friday.
Highs near 60 and lows in the mid-30s are expected Saturday, while Sunday’s forecast calls for highs in the upper 60s and lows in the lower 40s.
It’s supposed to be mostly sunny through Sunday.
Peach trees on the Brushies are at peak bloom or just past it, depending on the variety. Peach buds are more vulnerable to freeze damage just after peak bloom.
Apple trees aren’t blooming yet, but their buds are still susceptible to freeze damage this week. Again, it depends on the variety.
Wind, moisture levels and how long it remains cold are among weather factors that contribute to how tree fruit crops fare in a spring freeze. These factors, in addition to temperature, vary depending on the elevation.
Trees more heavily-laden with buds are better able to still produce a good crop after a hard freeze.
Brushy Mountain orchardists in Wilkes and Alexander counties have had some of their worst freeze damage in late March and early April.