Sunday morning, Cedar and Aaron made the trek up the little hill to see how the blues faired after the warm-up and abrupt chill down. We were most concerned about our winter hardy varieties because they might have come slightly out of dormancy during the warm-up a week ago leaving them vulnerable to temperature dip (read previous blog post for more information).
Our fears were somewhat confirmed. Many of the half-high varieties, those that were developed and bred in MN specifically for our climate, showed a lot of damage. Plants that are affected by the temperature, changes will show winter kill on their branches. This means, the otherwise deep red alive branch has a grey, bleak looking exterior. The buds also shrivel to tiny coal like spots. This does not mean that the plant itself is dead. It means that any growth that would have taken place on that branch is now dead. Winter kill is not uncommon for tenuous climates like ours and it can also serve as natural pruning. However, when plants are as young and small as ours, winter kill can eradicate any chance of berries on that bush for the season.
On the other hand, the highbush varieties, those that are more sensitive to prolonged periods of extreme freezing temperatures, were looking beautiful! As the winter continues and we look ahead to winters in the future, we will need to reevaluate the varieties we choose to plant. Winters don't feel like they used to and the climate, it is a changin'. It is still important for us to keep diversity so we don't lose an entire crop in a funky winter situation that goes the other direction (several extremely cold days in a row). Weather is still the most influential factor in making, breaking, dulling, or accentuating a season on any farm. I suppose it is still one of life's great mysteries to some degree.