Plants are more exposed to frost due to climate change

Plants with snow

You have surely noticed that in recent years there are trees, such as almond trees, that bloom before their time. This, which could well be a wonderful show, it can cause them a lot of trouble when frost hits, for the simple reason that the cells that form the petals do not withstand low temperatures. And if there are no flowers, there can be no fruits.

Climate change is bringing spring forward, but it is a spring with characteristics typical of winter, that is to say: one week the thermometer can read twenty degrees Celsius, but then one day it drops to a paltry five or six degrees that kill outbreaks more tender. So, the fruiting of the plants is in danger.

According to a study published in the journal Nature Communications, plants in Europe for 30 years have resumed their growth period three days earlier and end in winter. This change exposes them to spring frosts, which is when flowers and leaves bloom. Thus, when there is a frost, and let alone snowfall, they become very weak, so much so that the flowers abort and the leaves either burn, or fall directly, with which the plant is forced to expend energy again to produce of new.


Almond tree from my garden. Photo taken on January 20, 2018. It had begun to bloom on the 8th of that month.

By contrast, in Asia and North America the number of days plants suffer from frost has been decreasing, but not because those areas are cooling but because global warming has reduced the number of days a year that frost occurs. Even so, there have been episodes where this early spring has had very negative effects: in 2007 there was a week of spring frosts in the central and eastern United States that reduced wheat production by 19%, of which peaches 75% and apples and walnuts 66%.

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