PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – If it seems like trees in the Portland and Willamette Valley region are blooming a bit later this year, it’s not just you.
The buds on the trees are opening later than they have the last two years.
Brooke Edmunds, an OSU Extension community horticulturalist in Marion, Polk, Linn and Benton Counties, checked historic weather data and confirmed that blossoms are in fact running behind schedule.
“Compared to last year, it’s about a week [later] and then the year before that, about 10 days. So, anywhere in there, a week to 10 days, we’re just waiting for everything to start blooming,” she said.
It’s not just trees, she said. All blooming plants are running a bit behind because of the colder late-winter weather the region has experienced in 2023. Edmunds said it’s possible many of the buds will remain closed for a bit longer since the high temperatures after Wednesday aren’t expected to climb much higher than the low-50s.
Trees have buds on them now, but they’ll likely stay closed until the warmer temperatures remain consistent.
“It’s usually this cumulative effect where they’re just, it’s building up, like a little bit warmer, a little bit warmer,” Edmunds said.
Temperature plays a factor when determining at what elevation trees will bloom first. Edmunds said trees at higher elevations in Northwest Oregon often experience cooler average temperatures and usually don’t bloom until after those at lower elevations.
In 2022, many fruit trees were significantly impacted by an unseasonable snowfall that occurred in the Pacific Northwest in April.
The snow caused a smaller-than-usual fruit harvest after the storm hit on April 14, during the region’s cherry blossom bloom.
KOIN 6 News asked Edmunds if the later blooming in 2023 would better protect trees from the impact of a possible spring snowstorm. She said no, and that any drastic change in temperature to trees in the spring will have an impact – no matter where they are in their blooming cycle.
“The flowers themselves on fruiting plants like that, if they get this cool frost, that can damage those developing flowers and those developing fruits, so they’re not necessarily protected if we do get that sharp temperature dip,” she said.
Edmunds said she wishes she had a crystal ball to know when exactly the trees will blossom this spring, but said we’ll just need to have some patience this year until warmer weather arrives.