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Think you cant grow apple trees?

Associated PressVail, CO Colorado

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. Temperatures in mid-January dipped to 10, 20 and even 35 below zero in mountain towns. Thats plenty cold, but not the sustained, penetrating cold that was commonplace in the 1980s and before.In fact, the climate has changed so much that trees once thought to be delusions of gardeners such as apple and cherry trees may now be grown in mountain towns, the National Arbor Day Foundation says.Based on average low temperatures, the Nebraska-based group issues a 10-zone hardiness scale for trees in the United States. Zones range from the most hostile, 1, to the most tropical, 10.After gathering temperature data from 5,000 weather stations for the period from 1990 to 2005, the organization revised its hardiness zones. Many areas of the nation were one zone warmer, others even two zones warmer. Each zone shift indicated minimum temperatures that were 10 degrees warmer.

The new ratings may surprise tree-growers in mountain valleys. The new map puts Avon in zone 5, suitable for all manner of apples, plus peaches, plums, and pears. It is, according to the Arbor Day Foundation Web site, a suitable place for apricots and cherries, similar to Denver.Ditto for Idahos Wood River Valley, where Ketchum and Sun Valley are located, and the Roaring Fork Valley, home to Aspen even pecan trees are possible in some locations.If the map can be believed, maple and apple trees have a chance in Breckenridge, Silverton, and Telluride even Fraser, the self-proclaimed Icebox of the nation.Theres obviously something a little goofy, says Nicola Ripley, director of the Vails Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. We all agree that the climate is softening, but no way is Avon the same as Denver.The Web site for the Arbor Days Foundation does offer a caveat, noting that microclimates of specific areas may render the zones incomplete.Several tree specialists told the Jackson Hole News&Guide that cold temperatures have diminished, but not enough to warrant wholesale changes.I would say that I have noticed that some things do better than they used to, said Jen Hall, a nursery manager at Porcupine Greenhouse and Nursery in Jackson for the past 15 years. Not the big trees like you see back east weve tried a couple of different varieties of the bigger tree maples, and they are kind of iffy.Hall added that hes sticking to the trees recommended for Zone 3, where the low temperatures reach -30 to -40 degrees. Jackson Hole is now rated as both zones 3 and 4.In Driggs, Idaho, on the west side of the Tetons, a nursery yard manager, Jared Searle, said he sees some hitherto unthinkable trees – like apples and cherries surviving, if planted in sheltered areas or against a house. Id say the winters have gotten less nasty over the last 10 years, he said. I can see them bumping it up a level.


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