Hello all, I’m in the eeearly stages of designing a forest garden on my one acre property, I live in very South Georgia about 30 minutes outside of Valdosta in zone 8b, and my main major concern is the winters where I live. It certainly gets cold, and I allegedly get enough chill hours here to grow a lot of fruits that need it, but it doesn’t ‘stay’ cold consistently. It tends to go a week where the temperature doesn’t get any warmer than 60, followed by a day -or even a week sometimes- of temperatures in the mid 70s. I have heard that people struggle to grow fruittrees in this type of situation due to the brief warm spell bringing the plant out of dormancy where it then begins to bud, just to have it killed back by the frost the next day.
So really my question is, are there any ways I can work around this? I figured it’d be a no-brainer as a first step to source plants locally that are acclimated to this area, but I am also worried this will severely limit the variety of trees I can grow, as I am already having a hard time locating nurseries nearby that carry any real variety, or at the very least that carry some of the more “uncommon” trees i would like to plant. So I feel as if my main option for the time being is ordering bare-root trees online, but I have no idea what trees or varieties I should look into. Does anybody here know what trees might be more tolerant of this situation in the first place, or maybe how I might go about just keeping the trees alive until they can acclimate themselves (assuming they can)?
I don't know much about fruit trees but I am in the same zone in middle Georgia.
Lots of different fruit trees do fine around here. Macon is famous for it's cherry trees. I think the risk may be that some trees such as citrus can lose their blossoms or fruit (like orange trees) due to a late freeze, but that is far different than losing the whole tree.
Fruit trees in the south are experiencing weirdness from the changing weather patterns, Usually what we have to worry about is flowering timing and this is where having enough large covers can save you the loss of a crop of fruit.
We have, over the last three years, gotten one or two good pears from our two trees because of late frost killing the blossoms and/ or the weather not stimulating the bees to go nectar and pollen gathering.
This same thing has happened to our Apple trees, peach trees, plum trees, only the mulberry trees have put off a bumper crop.
For this next spring I will have enough covers that are large enough to protect the blossoms from frost kill and we are hoping that does the trick, if it doesn't then we will be adding "smudge pots" to add some heat under those covers.
The trees surviving isn't the issue unless the trees are Fig trees, those need covers to prevent branches from freezing and dying.
Would it make sense to cover the fruit trees well before spring in order to slow down the early bloom? Maybe 90% shade cloth (White to prevent warm temperatures).
A gardener I know recommends late pruning to delay bloom as long as possible.
Lessons in life will be repeated until they are learned.
My suggestion would be diversity in varieties. I have no idea which peach tree is which (on my homestead) and i dont want to know. The required chill hours vary between them and i dont want to be influenced by a bumper crop this year, because it may produce 0 next year. Variety within each type of fruit should get me something every year.
I am in Florida, zone 9, and I lost several plants and trees after a mild February, and 2 days in a week period where the temp hit 27. I lost persimmon, blueberries, gojis, papaya, starfruit, blackberry, and Guava.
I know now to water well the day of the freeze, and cover up with landscape cloth.
I also am going to run a light out to the starfruit next time there is a threat like this.
I have built up rock piles around some of these tender trees to absorb sun heat and release later. Maybe combining these tasks will help.
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7 AHS:4 GDD:3000 Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
most blossom buds are hardy to 27F but maybe it had already passed the blossom bud stage and was pretty much open.
We have similar problems up here too in New England, that is why diversification helps. plant alot of different fruit trees with different bloom time.
And even if every year 10% gets damage you still have alot left over to harvest.
It could be animals or weather or insect or water or even hurricane. with diversification of different bloom and harvest time not everything will be lost.
And it is okay and expected that we will not be able to harvest all 100% of the produce.
Iterations are fine, we don't have to be perfect
Location: Extreme Southern Central Georgia, U.S. Zone 8b
Thank you all for your responses! I wasn’t actually too worried about losing “blossom” buds to a late frost (although now maybe I should be, and I will prepare for that) but rather the leaves budding out for “spring” in the middle of winter because a couple of warm days tricked the plant out of winter-dormancy, where it drops back to 25 degrees F. and kills all that new growth, and I was concerned this process would kill or maybe stunt the plant/tree as it’s exposed to freezing temps while not dormant. But if you’re all saying that’s not something I’ve really gotta be worried about, then I’m a whole lot less stressed and I’ll just keep my eyes out for a late frost and put the Christmas lights on stand-by
I am responding with no useful information but because the title "fruit trees surviving in zone 8b Georgia" made me smile more than is reasonable. I can't imagine people in Georgia even own coats. :)
We have fruit trees in zone 4a and they come through the winter without any issues. Some years we lose fruit set due to late frosts, early blooming, but not often. Choose varieties that are proven in your area. I bet there are localfacebook groups for fruit growers, plant trading, etc. Or - check out your local arboretum. I wander through the Minnesota Arboretum every year because they aim to grow every possible plant that can survive in our area. It's really nice to walk up and see the plant, how it's growing, how healthy it looks, etc - rather than rely on catalogs or someone else's opinion. Good luck - and since you have such nice warm weather - I hope you are taking advantage of the opportunity to grow peaches!! If I had the money, I would build a big greenhouse just for peaches and black mulberries.
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Chris, what kind of citrus? Are you doing anything special to keep them thriving? Do they provide good fruit? We can get down to 10F for 5 days here.
I was looking at this web nursery for possibilities.
Lessons in life will be repeated until they are learned.
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