How cold is it here?
We are currently in the middle of a pretty severe cold snap in Edmonton. Temperatures in city during the last week have hardly climbed above -20°C (-4°F) and have fallen as low as -31°C (-24°F). These temperatures aren’t actually that common. Yes, we do usually have a few cold snaps each winter, but -30°C (-22°F) is still pretty rare. In fact, it’s been a few years since the last time the temperature in Edmonton dropped that low. This may be surprising as even many locals often talk about winter as if it is 6 full months of -40°C (-40°F).
But won’t somebody think of the trees!?
Naturally, one of my first considerations in the cold weather is the fruit trees. How are they doing when the temperature dips this low? As of December 31, it appears that the coldest has passed with temperatures rising on the first day of 2018. We can now look back and see that the lowest temperature in the City of Edmonton during the cold snap was -30.7°C (-24°F), A bit outside the city at the international airport, things got a bit colder at around -35°C (-31°CF).
No doubt these are pretty frigid temperatures, but I’m actually not to worried about the apple trees. I generally try to work with cold hardy trees. Most of what I grow should be fine to temperatures of at least -40°C (-40°F). I do, however, still grow some apple cultivars that are a bit more sensitive. But even these trees are theoretically fine to at least -29°C (-20°F), so they will probably be okay, especially in in the city depending on other more specific factors.
According to the temperature sensor in my yard, things actually haven’t gotten much below -29°C (-20°F) right here anyways. These temperatures are actually okay for a lot of apple trees, even those that are typically associated with warmer zones. Although I wouldn’t gamble all of my apple efforts on plants that are more susceptible to cold, It’s also kind of fun to test the limits of what we can grow here.
That being said, only spring will tell if this weather harmed any plants. With these temperatures, though, I’m not loosing any sleep yet.
But what about wind chill?
I’m not a fan of wind chill values. Wind can make us “feel” colder, but I think for many these theoretical numbers are used as a tool to exaggerate how cold it is. I think wind chill is why many people have an overly dramatic perception of how cold winter is. Thankfully, the trees agree with me. While cold dry winds can be tough on plants, it is the real actual temperature that affects them. When I’m checking the forecasts to see how the plants might fare, I ignore the windchill numbers entirely.
A cold send off to 2017
2017 was a great cider year for us, with lots of changes to taste, explore, and learn more about cider and apples. As we welcome in 2018 and the warmer temperatures it brings, we are looking forward to another year of cider adventures! And yes – we will be celebrating by popping open some champagne style cider!
Cheers & Happy New Year!