DAYTON, OH (WDTN) — You might think that winter is a boring time for a fruit tree, but cold temperatures provide an important piece of the growing cycle.

Trees are normally in their dormant period over the winter, but with abnormally warm temperatures to begin the year, trees are beginning to bud out early in the season.

Dr. Don Cipollini, Wright State University Professor of Biology said, “This extended warm period we’re having after the very cold period we had. These trees essentially are being tricked into thinking they’ve been through winter and spring’s here and it’s time to start to grow.”

Apple trees need upwards of 1,000 “chill hours” where temperatures range from freezing to 45 degrees to produce apples for the spring season. With the warmth we have seen, some orchards are beginning to see buds, a concerning sight this early in the winter.

David Whorton, CEO of Open Pomme Orchard said, “The buds may not have time to develop before the spring shows up on time, which means there could be fewer flowers, smaller flowers, which is less pollen for the bees to do their thing. So you could have smaller fruit as well, or less fruit.”

However, he says that he is not worried just yet, and that there is plenty of winter left.

“Only in the early days of January, usually later January or February, we have some cold weather, so I’m hoping for some cold weather here in the next couple of weeks.”

Cipollini said that trees can bounce back from damaged buds, but you can lose a crop if the tree flowers too early.