Winter has arrived on the west coast, and it's time to embrace the cold weather and all the benefits that come with it. Sure, we may be tempted to bundle up inside and hibernate until the spring, but as farmers, we know that the winter is a crucial time for our crops. In fact, the chilly temperatures are a vital component of growing healthy and fruitful apple trees and strawberry plants. So, grab a steaming cup of cocoa, snuggle up by the fire, and read on to discover how the frosty winter weather can improve your favorite fruit harvest.

Apple Trees

The first benefit of cold winter weather for apple trees is that it helps prevent early spring growth. Apple trees need approximately 1,000 hours of below 45°F weather to give them the proper rest they need to bear fruit. Without this rest period, trees will have reduced yields, and the fruit they do produce will be smaller and of lower quality. Plus, a lack of chill hours can cause trees to bloom too early, putting the buds at risk of frost damage. Luckily, the cold weather helps ensure that apple trees remain dormant, preventing this disastrous scenario.

Strawberry Plants

Strawberry plants also benefit from winter's chill. When strawberry plants experience frost, it triggers a natural "hardening off" process, which helps to protect the plants from future frost damage. This process also causes the plants to produce more runners and flowers, leading to more abundant and healthier fruit growth. Additionally, the cold weather kills off harmful pests and diseases that can survive in milder conditions. That's one of the reasons that you will often see strawberries planted in raised beds or covered with a layer of straw, causing them to produce more fruit and less disease. provides detailed information on successfully overwintering strawberries and how to grow strawberries in cold weather.


While the cold is beneficial for crops, it can also bring some unwelcome guests. Bugs like aphids, mites, and scale insects can wreak havoc on crops, reducing yields and damaging fruit quality. Fortunately, farmers have ways to help control these pests naturally. During the winter months, we utilize dormant oil, which is a mixture of mineral oil and soap, that helps to smother and kill overwintering insect pests and their eggs. This eco-friendly solution helps us to control pests without harming the environment.

Higher Sugar Content

Lastly, we know that the winter weather can be difficult for farmers, but we're also thankful for the help it gives us. When apple trees and strawberry plants experience a cold, fluctuating winter, they develop a higher sugar content, making the fruit taste sweeter. We've learned to take advantage of this natural process by timing the harvest to ensure optimal sweetness levels. The lower temperatures also lead to slower ripening times, giving us more time to harvest before the fruit reaches maturity, allowing us to enjoy tasty, fresh produce throughout the winter months.

In Conclusion

The winter weather may have us shivering, but it also brings numerous benefits to our crops. From the natural "hardening off" of strawberry plants to the prevention of early spring growth in apple trees, the cold weather is an essential component of farming. While winter pests and diseases may pose a threat, farmers are equipped to naturally protect their crops using eco-friendly solutions. So, the next time the mercury drops, remember that the cold weather is essential for healthy and abundant fruit crops.