BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Generally speaking, a blackberry winter refers to a late-season cold snap, when the blackberries are in bloom.
Before the days of a digital weather database, there were modest weather logs and astute farmers. From season to season, nature would give farmers clues as to when to plant and what to plant.
In the south, Easter, or any time around April 15 was considered safe to start planting. Historically, late March and April always had a few warm days that would tease the senses that spring had sprung and folks would get antsy to start planting. However, farmers knew that a few frost killing days were always possible in that window as well. So, as to prevent loss of crop or any damage to fragile vegetation, it seemed that there was much more success when planting after April 15.
During mid-to-late April, in addition to planting gardens, flowers and crops, local foliage begins to bloom too. In fact, just this week, I saw a beautiful bush of wild blackberries blooming, marked by their white flower buds. These flower buds, once pollinated, will produce delicious blackberries 45-60 days later.
While blackberries tend to bloom after the last frost or freeze, they can sometimes bloom closely to late season cold snaps. On occasion, a late April or early May cold snap may occur in conjunction with the newly blooming blackberries. Thus, the name “Blackberry Winter” is given to these late season cold snaps in spring. This is marked by unseasonably colder temperatures, but doesn’t always mean there are frost killing temperatures.
For us here in Alabama, this week, morning temperatures will be in the 40s. That isn’t enough to damage crops or kill any new vegetation, but temperatures will be about 10-12 degrees below average for several days making this a prolonged cold period after the normal growing season has started.