In the overnight hours of April 20, temperatures fell into the 20s across about half the state of Arkansas, causing the second historic freeze event in 2021. While many horticulture producers were able to prepare by covering berries and other bush plants, peach and muscadine growers weren’t able to do this.
The first event occurred the week of February 14; it happened when many of the state’s fruit crops were still in their winter dormancy. Amanda McWhirt, extension horticultural crop specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said the second event caught many of the state’s fruit crops at a particularly vulnerable stage of development.
“After the February event we observed some losses to peaches, blueberry and blackberry crops across the state,” McWhirt told harrisondaily.com. “Unfortunately, crops whose floral buds survived the February freeze were then blooming or setting small fruit during our more recent freeze event.”
McWhirt and other Division of Agriculture researchers surveyed crops in several locations across Arkansas, assessing buds, blooms and fruit for symptoms of cold injury after the April freeze. They found that blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and grapes all saw varying degrees of damage.