Recently freezing rain coated trees with ice and the sight reminded me that when a freeze is threatening fruit trees in the spring, just as buds are breaking, orchardists often opt to replicate this phenomenon by starting a sprinkler and coating their trees with ice. Flower buds that are starting to open can be extremely temperature sensitive, suffering damage when it goes below freezing even temporarily. As counter-intuitive as it seems, a properly maintained layer of ice works well to protect opening buds from the cold. When water freezes, heat is produced at a rate of 80 calories per gram of water (the heat of fusion). If water is continually applied to the tree and consistently freezes, it is possible to maintain the buds around 32 degrees F., thereby protecting the flowers within them. (Photo- sugar maple terminal buds)
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