This year saw an unusually warm winter for Middle Tennessee. That meant flowers blooming and plants beginning to bud in February.
The few March nights of freezing temperatures that followed sent farmers and gardeners scrambling and reminded some of a similar, but far more catastrophic, year.
Research farmer Adam Turtle of Summertown remembers the Easter weekend of 2007, when weeks of warm nights crashed into temperatures in the teens.
“There was no fruit that year,” Turtle says, “And by fruit, I’m using it in the broad sense. There were no acorns in the wood, there were no dogwood berries. Gaskins Farm, the hippie farm over here, buried 80 heads of deer that starved to death on 1,700 acres.”
Turtle doesn’t believe anything that bleak awaits farmers after this year’s freeze. But Krissy Hurley of the National Weather Service in Nashville has heard from some worried berry and fruit farmers in Chattanooga.
Hurley says Middle Tennessee growers are less likely to see significant loss. She says that while this February was one of the warmest on record, the recent freeze wasn’t all that late in the season. That means plants didn’t have as much time to grow.
“I think that did help us kind of buy some time, that things weren’t as blooming and budding as much as that devastating freeze in 2007," she says.
But Hurley is quick to point out there is still plenty of time left for another possible cold snap: The final freeze date for Middle Tennessee is expected to be around April 6.