We are in the midst of a cold winter weekend, but until recently the weather had been relatively mild.
The average temperature in Columbus was above normal from Dec. 12, 2018, through Jan. 12, 2019, which showed remarkable consistency.
Despite the recent cold period, which intensified around Jan. 20, Sandra Abels, of Pataskala, wondered about the “confused” signs of spring in her yard that included peach tree leaves separating and now closing, and early species of daffodils and irises poking through the recent snow.
She added that “my crocuses aren’t even up and usually they are first.”
Dr. David Shetlar, an entomologist at Ohio State, pointed out that “when we have prolonged periods of snow cover, the actual soil remains warm enough for plants to develop, especially these early spring emerging flowers.”
He added that decomposing mulch in very moist soil adds warmth and prevents the surface from freezing, which gives room for plants to grow.
“I always get a bit worried about these early developments because we can get a severe cold snap without snow cover and the tops of these plants may freeze and turn brown. The trees that have swelling buds can suffer the same fate. This is very common with peach trees in Ohio. The peach flower buds developed the previous year and when we get temps in the 0 F range, those flower buds can be killed,” he said.
This is what happened in a mild winter several years ago across most of Ohio, Shetlar said.
“Even if tree buds are frozen and killed, most deciduous trees will have secondary leaf buds that emerge in the spring, but the primary buds (both leaf and flower) would be lost.”
With the coming frigid weather next week, it is unlikely anything will want to come out of dormancy, including us.