The weather has been so sunny and warm it’s hard to remember it’s February. Here in Sonoma we have gotten very few rain storms this month but it’s not the lack of precipitation that worries me right now, it is the balmy days. With temperatures in the 70s and some days even hitting the 80s, The plants are coming out of dormancy, the mustard is in full bloom and the fruit trees are full of branches with buds about to burst into flower.
Cold freezing temperatures are an important part of the winter season. Perennial crops like grapes, apples, and plums need chill hours which are roughly the number of hours between the temperatures of 32-45 degrees fahrenheit. Dormancy is needed for healthy plants and that is triggered by, a certain minimum exposure to chilling temperatures. Lack of such exposure results in delayed and substandard flowering and fruiting. We have had some periods of cold temperatures this winter but we need more before the plants are truly ready for springtime weather.