Weather whiplash

John Perry-Goodson
By John Perry-Goodson March 3, 2017 15:12
Jay Terryberry at St.Clair College in Windsor on March 3. (Photo by John Perry-Goodson)

Jay Terryberry at St.Clair College in Windsor on March 3.
(Photo by John Perry-Goodson)

By John Perry-Goodson

The extreme weather conditions this year have people worrying about the side effects.


The freezing and thawing weather has people concerned about what could happen to their gardens if the weather continues to fluctuate. Crops and fruit could be damaged.


The average temperature in February last year was -2.6° Celsius. This year the average temperature is up to a concerning 2.1° Celsius.


With the increase of temperature, the buds on plants and flowers start to swell, which cause them to lose the ability to withstand cold temperatures. Plants like witch hazel have already started blooming, however once the temperature drops those plants will start to die. Having weather too warm can damage plants, since it speeds up their normal living process. The hotter it gets, the more the plants suffer.


To counter this, orchard growers will put fans in fields to bring down the temperature. Sap from trees, like sugar maples, will start running in warm weather before they start to get tapped.  This in turn lessens the quality of the sap. If there is no freezing temperatures, sap will stop flowing all together. Hardy plants such as plum trees or apple trees would be fine, but flower buds will be in danger.


“We could just have normal temperatures, and plants will be fine,” said Jay Terryberry, a professor of landscape and horticulture at St. Clair College.


The weather change gets businesses thinking about spring ahead of time, while garden centres start getting calls to buy plants.  However with the warm and cold weather, garden centres are running out of produce.

Gardeners are not the only ones who are being affected. Michelle Turnbull, employee at Colchester Ridge Estate Winery said “too much humidity will send vines into a heat shock, which can cause fungal rots.”


For the last two winters the temperature changes had an effect on buds. In 2015, crops held a 45 per cent yield, and no fruit. The cold weather also affects inventory as the crops start to run out of fresh fruit.

Residents will find their grocery shopping will be affected by the weather whiplash.

John Perry-Goodson
By John Perry-Goodson March 3, 2017 15:12

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