ITHACA, N.Y. — Less than a month after its launch, the Cornell Climate Smart Farming (CSF) Apple Freeze Risk Tool captured a dangerous freeze event on March 5th throughout the Northeast, with temperatures dropping into the single digits and below, putting apple varieties (particularly McIntosh) at risk for upwards of 50% damage. The freeze came on the heels of unseasonably warm temperatures for multiple weeks, causing apples to come out of dormancy earlier than usual, and putting the plants at risk for damage from cold temperatures. The graphic below is the forecast from the tool as of Friday afternoon in Ithaca, NY, giving an advanced warning for apple farmers who may want to take action to protect their crops.
These freeze risk situations are becoming increasingly familiar to farmers, because while warmer days are occurring earlier and more frequently with climate change, freezes are not receding as quickly. The Cornell CSF Program has developed this and other tools in order to promote, through useful information, proactive responses to extreme events such as freeze and drought, which are exacerbated by the changing climate. Navigate to the CSF website (www.climatesmartfarming.org/tools/) to view the Apple Freeze Risk tool, and others such as: a Grape Hardiness and Freeze Risk Tool, a Growing Degree Day Calculator, and a Water Deficit Calculator.
All of the CSF tools are free to use, and are accurate throughout the entire Northeast, from West Virginia to Maine. Each CSF tool uses gridded weather data at approximately a 2.5 x 2.5 mile resolution, allowing users to put in a specific zip code, address, or latitude/longitude in order to zoom to their chosen location. The tools were developed through collaboration with researchers and programmers at the Northeast Regional Climate Center (nrcc.cornell.edu), and any questions regarding them can be directed to the Cornell Climate Smart Farming Program (www.climatesmartfarming.org/contact/) or the authors of this article. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Specialist or the Cornell CSF Extension Team (www.climatesmartfarming.org/climate-smart-farming-extension-team/) for specific questions about on-farm or crop-specific best management practices and strategies as well.
—Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions (CICSS)
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