As most of Ohio awoke this morning, many were greeted with something we have become unfamiliar with the past few weeks; Frost. Frost warnings were in effect the past 48 hours for much of the state, and in Central Ohio we saw a nice icy glaze across the landscape this morning.
The Science behind Frost damage
Although many people know that a late frost can be a set back to our landscapes, few may not know exactly what is happening. During a frost, temperatures approach the freezing point. In the spring, when plants have come out of dormancy, their cells have begun to replenish with water. The water in the cells then freezes during the cold night causing ice to form in the cells. When the ice forms it causes internal damage to the plants intercellular parts, creating problematic areas in the plant.
During the winter months, deciduous plants lose their leaves leaving little vulnerability to frost, and turfgrass goes dormant (moisture leaves the tissue leaving little water in the tissue). This allows for plants to overwinter with out long term damage.
Frost's Affect on Your Lawn
Frost effects lawn care too. However your lawn has the ability to grow out of the damaged tissue, and within a few days and a mowing or two, we won’t even be able to tell that anything ever affected the plant. Other plants such as our ornamental flowering shrubs and fruit bearing trees, can be affected the rest of the season. The ornamental plants may recover by growing new leaves, or working with partially damaged leaves.
Fruit bearing trees such as apples and peaches are often damaged more because of the long term value of the plant. When a spring frost occurs, it can damage the flower buds or flowers themselves. From these flowers we receive our fruit in the fall. Depending on the severity of the frost in different areas, we may be experiencing a reduced number of available peaches, apples, and other fruits this fall.
Author: Andrew Muntz received his Master’s of Science in Turfgrass science and his Bachelors of Science in Landscape Horticulture at The Ohio State University, Columbus OH.