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Blackberry Winter

Apr 15, 2012

When I was growing up, Blackberry Winter was a rock band from Nebraska. Some of you may know Blackberry Winter as the band from West Plains, Mo., who had several tunes in the 2010 movie soundtrack of Winter’s Bone.

They probably both took their name from a term used to describe a cold spell during the blackberry bloom. "Blackberry winter comes without a warning just when you think that spring's around to stay," according to a 1976 song by the same name. It describes what happened last week and why I have heard the term several times after freeze warnings were issued by the National Weather Service for central Missouri. Blackberries are blooming about a month earlier than usual in the southern half of Missouri, so a blackberry winter is no surprise this year.

I have also heard terms like “dogwood winter,” “whippoorwill winter” and “redbud winter,” all referring to the common occurrence of a springtime cold snap. Which name you hear probably denotes the spring species most common in your area or what is blooming during the cold spell.

Deep cold snaps like we experienced during April 2007 have a negative impact on plants and animals alike. However, our little blackberry winter this week should have negligible impacts on nature. I can still look forward to picking blackberries in a couple of months to go into a fresh blackberry cobbler!


Image of a blackberry flower


Jerry, that is excellent news. We have a lot of birds come through the winter in excellent shape, thanks to the abnormally mild weather. Unlike several previous winters. Hopefully we will not have a cool, wet nesting season again and these birds can produce some offspring. We have not had a dry nesting season since around 2004.

I've really been hearing a lot of quail here around the house. In fact I was outside this evening doing some spraying and was listening to 2 or 3 birds right up by the house. I was standing out by the road next to my fence and the neighbor drove up and stopped and said he'd been seeing and hearing some bobwhites. I said yeah, aint it a nice sound!! He agreed and said that he really enjoyed hearing 'em whistle. THAT made me feel pretty good!!

Bruce, you bring the blackberries, I will make the cobbler!!! 

Bill, does that mean you're making black berry cobbler for everyone? Bruce

Woke up yesterday morning to a male bobby whistleing outside my bedroom window, sure does beat the heck out of the alarm clock!! Then I got out of bed and walked to the back door and seen a male/female pair milling around down by the tractor shed. Sure was a nice sight and sound so early in the morning. Really made it hard to go to work.

Well so much for not having any frost or freezes. We had a HEAVY frost here on Saturday morning with the truck thermometer showing 31 and there was a lot of white on the grass. I checked my shrub plantings and everthing looked to be okay with just a few having some leaves that have turned brown or yellow. On a brighter note, I've been hearing quite a few quail whistleing around the farm with at least two different females answering the males.

I was setting my tomatoes and flowers in yesterday when a neighbor stopped by and said, You know it's going to frost, right?". Argh!! I waited as long as I could stand it!

An old WW2 weather forecaster from little Rock AR used to call it the Easter Cold Snap...and he would say "You can always count on the Easter cold snap". "Don't plant until after the Easter cold snap, wait until the first warm days in early May".

Don't think the frost hurt my peach trees at all. It was very light here at Portland.

My Dad always counted on Blacberry Winters to make those Berries Good. He enjoyed picking them to make Cobblers and Pies. Mmm Good.

It definately cooled off here in Fair Grove but we didn't have any frost or freeze that I know of. I have enjoyed these nice rains we've gotten over the past two days and it couldn't have come at a better time as I had just planted 750 shrubs as part of a quail habitat improvement project two weeks ago and they were needing some rain.

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