This morning I threw on some warm clothes at 5:45 to go out in the dark and check on the orchard. The grass made a gentle crushing sound as I crossed the frosted lawn. Leaving the driveway and approaching the orchard, it changed abruptly to a crackly crunch and I saw through the first light of dawn that everything the sprinkler had touched held a thick coating of ice. Did I just doom my trees to another year of no harvest?
When my husband came downstairs, I moaned about our big mistake. He told me the internet article that recommended this way of protecting from frost said that although it was counter-intuitive, the ice actually keeps the buds warmer than allowing the frost to settle in:
“When you use sprinklers to prevent freezing injury, you are using the energy that water releases when it freezes, and changes from a liquid to a solid, to keep the temperature in the ice right at the freezing point – 32 degrees F.“
The article goes on to provide lots of detailed measurements for determining when to turn the sprinklers on and off and on what range of cold this will work. I don’t have the skills or the patience to figure out how to take all these measurements, so I will just go on faith and see what happens this year.
I wish it wouldn’t be such a long wait to find out if this was a good or a dumb move.