Unusually warm January in western Massachusetts could harm plants, trees this coming spring

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WWLP) — January just finished up as the ninth warmest on record in Chicopee.

The record-warmest was in 1990; 2002 was a close second. This year, the average was right around freezing. We had plenty of days reaching the 40s, and even the 50s, 60s, and a record-setting day at 70 degrees.

While we did have very warm temperatures in January, we also had a significant snow deficit. Typically, in January, we see 13.5 inches of snow. This past January, we saw less than 4. That means we had a snow deficit of 9.6 inches.

While many people welcome the warmth, it can be a bad thing for plants and trees.

“The real thing we are concerned about is the fluctuation. So if we do start to see early blooms, if this warmer weather continues well into February, we certainly could see some earlier blooms, and then we get concerned about early frosts,” Rick Harper, an extension associate professor of urban forestry at UMass, told 22News.

An early frost after warm temperatures could cause damage to crops, trees and flowers. The warm weather could also affect the production of maple syrup as well.

When asked about how the mild winter weather is affecting the maple sugaring season this year, Keith Dufresne, the owner of Dufresne’s Sugar House, said “We don’t know yet…we’ll find out.”

Dufresne went on to tell 22News they hope for ideal maple sugaring conditions like days in the 40s, but below-freezing nights. However, temperatures during the daytime have hit way above 40 degrees on multiple occasions.

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