Frost leaves trees shivering, but experts not worried
Some trees in the valley that had not yet budded out got zapped by last week’s freeze and appear dead. But a state forester says not to worry.”The buds are susceptible to freezing, but it shouldn’t be a problem,” said John Denison, a forester for the Colorado State Forest Service in Grand Junction.The buds, especially on ash and maple trees, were ripe and green early last week. They turned brown and brittle after Wednesday night’s freezing temperatures, which dropped to 19 degrees at Eagle Crest Nursery in El Jebel.”It was nothing serious,” said Eagle Crest General Manager Bill Dillon.Also hit were flowering trees such as red crabapple, which were in full bloom. Dillon said the health of those trees shouldn’t be affected, but the freeze stopped their flowering for this year.Early-budding trees that were already leafed out, such as aspen and cottonwood, have apparently not been affected.Denison said deciduous trees can go through the budding process several times as frosts come and go.”I’ve got a gingko that went through it four times,” Denison said.”To go through it two or three times is not unusual.”Denison said the real problem comes when late freezes hit fruit trees, which can damage the flowers and prevent them from bearing fruit.Although temperatures can drop uniformly in an area, not all trees of the same species are necessarily affected the same. For example, a tree next to a road might not freeze because streets retain heat, and passing cars stir the air.”The same tree in a backyard might freeze,” Denison said.Denison said trees that leaf out late in the spring, such as ash, are more susceptible to freezes.While homeowners are concerned about their valuable and slow-growing trees, bear watchers monitor late freezes for another reason.A bear’s diet includes berries from various bushes, and acorns from scrub oak, so frost damage can limit natural forage, and send the critters to trash cans and other unnatural food sources.Some scrub oak in the valley was damaged by the frost.”We haven’t seen anything to worry about yet,” said Pat Tucker, area manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife. “It’s still too early to tell.”Tucker said a late freeze two years ago hurt the berry crop, which bears rely on early in the year, and also the acorn crop, which they feed on in the fall.Right now, bears are eating “anything they can find,” including dandelions and road kill, he said.Natural food sources will be affected by moisture levels as the bear season continues. “So it’s hard to tell if it’ll be a bad year,” Tucker said.Tucker said the biggest problem with bears is still those people who don’t take precautions to keep bears out of trash cans, dog food bowls, barbecue grills and hummingbird feeders.It takes a while to get people back up to speed on bears, so Tucker offered the following two tips:-Use bear-proof trash containers, and set them out only on trash day.-Keep hummingbird feeders and dog food bowls out of the reach of bears.
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