The temperature roller coaster ride that has brought Northern Berkshire through spring, summer and winter recently has area fruit farmers concerned that some of their crops are in danger.
Roger Johnson, owner of Apple Tree Hill Organic Farm in Hancock, said Tuesday that the farm's first crop of raspberries all budded out with the warm temperatures last week, and he is hoping the crop will make it through the cold temperatures forecasted for this week.
"We're going to prune them back soon, and hopefully that will take care of [any frost damage]," he said. He also hopes it will get them back into a normal growing cycle, he said.
"We've seen early springs before, but just with the daffodils and the normal stuff that comes up early. I can never recall a year where we have had pronounced leaf growth in March. It's quite unusual," he said.
It will be interesting to see how the growing season progresses this year with the mild winter and early spring temperature fluctuations, he said.
"These are uncharted waters for us," he said.
John Hockridge of New England Weather Associates in North Adams said the area experienced six straight days of temperatures at or above 70 degrees from March 18 to 23.
"Now is transition time between winter and spring, but the variations have been more extreme than the normal transition," he said.
He said Monday night's low temperature was 18 degrees, and temperatures were expected
"The normal high for this time of year is 43 degrees, and the normal low is about 32 degrees," he said.
Tuesday was too early to tell how much ruin this week's below-freezing temperatures wrought on perennial crops that had opened prematurely during warm weather earlier this month, farmers said. But even if the fruit trees are unscathed now, there are still weeks of worry ahead as buds continue to grow, becoming more susceptible to an early death by cold.
Up the road from Apple Tree Hill Organic Farm, farmer Donald Quimby is concerned about his raspberries and blueberries.
"We have blueberries, but I don't think they opened enough for the frost to hurt them. The leaves have been coming out on the raspberries, and I haven't been down there yet today to see if they got hit," he said.
He did note that a "fancy tulip tree" in front of his house didn't make it through Monday night's chill.
"Everything else, I think, is going to be all right," he said. "The blackberries don't blossom until a little later, and all our other plants are in the greenhouse."
Topher Sabot, manager of Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, is more concerned about the area being dry than the cold temperatures.
"There is no snow pack, and it's pretty dry already," he said.
All the farm's cows are grass-fed, and while grass is pretty hardy, long-term dry spells aren't good, he said.
"It's more of a long-term worry. If we get good rain in April, it shouldn't be a problem," he said.
High temperatures will continue to be in the 40s and 50s during the rest of the week, while low temperatures will be in the 20s and 30s, according to Hockridge.
"There are some signs that next week, it will be up to 60 degrees or better beginning on Monday," he said.
New England Newspapers reporter Amanda Korman contributed to this report.