Freeze Damage Concerns In Minnesota
This week’s cold did not break records in Minnesota, but that does not mean that the weather did not get cold enough to kill or damage plants, including grapes. Temperatures got as low as -23F in the Twin Cities Sunday night and as low as -40F in the northern reaches of Minnesota. The last time it got this cold in Minnesota, or the Midwest, was during 1996 when wine grapes were much less common than today.
An article in yesterday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune quotes leading sources at the University of Minnesota who expect there will be some freeze damage this year. (That the Star-Tribune would write a story about Minnesota wine grape damage is noteworthy in itself and shows how far the industry has come.) On the bright side, Peter Hemstad of the University said that the recent cold might create demand for cold hardy grapes from growers farther south seeking protection from an occasionally misplaced polar vortex. As of this writing, the temperature in Minneapolis is 3F and many locals are reportedly taking advantage of the warm spell to enjoy outdoor activities.