Early Blooms Unwelcome in Wine Country

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By Courtney Cochran

With record temperatures that have sailed north of 70 degrees in some parts of the state, grape growers as far south as San Diego County and as far north as Sonoma are reporting signs of early bud break on vines.  Bud break - which usually doesn't occur until mid March - is apparently being stoked by the unseasonably balmy weather that has also encouraged such cold weather-shy flora as magnolia and almond trees to bloom early.  
"Early Spring" Could Be Devastating for Grape Harvest
The phenomenon growers are referring to as an "early spring" has some industry insiders beside themselves with worry, since an early bud break puts plants at serious risk for frost damage.  This risk is compounded by the severe water shortage many growers are suffering due to drought conditions (water is a key weapon for fighting frost in vineyards).  Still, it's not all bad news in the weather department:  gardeners the state over report early blooms and spring-like shows of color in the floral department - at least one benefit to the la niña-induced warm weather pattern that's causing all this fuss.  The way I see it, we might as well sit back and enjoy the show.  At this point, it's pretty much all that we can do.

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