Whitetail Habitat: Early Fruit Blossoms Killed by Freeze Out

A few months ago I blogged a warning that the spectacularly warm spring could result in early fruit tree blossoming which would make them vulnerable to freeze damage. Sure enough, spring in a lot of the country started about two weeks early. Then came the cold snap. The fruit trees were in full bloom while night temperatures were hovering around freezing. In fact, a couple of nights sunk into the mid-twenties during blossom time here in the Northeast.

The fruit trees on my property are all wild "volunteers" which have been struggling to make a living for scores if not hundreds of years in old fence rows and abandoned fields. Over the years we have rescued many of them from the ravages of over story, overcrowding, and decay. They have returned the favor by producing a welcome bounty.

I did a recon of my hunting property two weekends ago (while hunting turkeys) and assessed the situation firsthand. None of my 30 or so pear trees set any fruit and only about 25 percent of my 100 apple trees have any fruit at all; of those that do, they look to be carrying only about 15 percent of the normal crop. If you look carefully, you can see the shriveled up crusty remains of the frost damaged flowers which should now be gumball-sized fruit. My son Neil, who lives 30 miles away, is experiencing the same conditions on his farm.

Bottom line, as feared, this year my hunting property will not be offering much in the way of soft mast (at least tree fruit) this year. I have yet to check on the acorn and beechnut (hard mast) situation. As of now, the whitetails using our property will be without some of their favorite fall foods this year. And we will be without some of our favorite hunting set-ups.

What's it look like in your neck of the woods? Did you loose any mast due to the early spring? If so, how much?