Despite sub zero temperatures, the freeze earlier this month was not a replay of the April 2007 freeze which severely damaged Missouri's grape crop. One major difference between the catastrophic freeze of '07 and now is that this year the vines were not in as advanced stage of bud growth as they were when the cold hit then.
Vineyards around the state are reporting no damage from the recent ultra cold weather. Only the early budding grape varieties, like Concord and Cayuga, were near bud break, however temperatures did not dip low enough for an extended period of time to do major harm. The buds on most grape varieties were still tightly closed, and therefore able to handle the sub freezing weather.
"The critical factor this time of year is how low the temperatures go. If temperatures stay in the mid to upper 20s then damage should be minimal. However, if temperatures drop below around 25 then there could be a significant amount of injury on several cultivars, particularly the early budding ones," explained Andy Allen, Extension Associate - Viticulturist at the Institute for Continental Climate Viticulture and Enology in Columbia.
Grapevines emerge from winter dormancy when budbreak occurs.Tender vine shoots and leaves push out from the dormant vine and are vulnerable to frost or freeze damage during spring. Missouri's grapevines are not out of danger until early May.
The current cold front actually helped the state's vineyards says Jon Held of Stone Hill Winery in Hermann. "The cold should slow the bud break down, which we definitely need since we really aren't out of danger from freezing weather until the end of the month."
Cory Bomgaars of Les Bourgeois Winery agrees,"Hopefully the cool temperatures will delay bud break and give us a little more protection from late season frosts."
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