Frost Tolerances

Cranberry Spring and Fall Frost Tolerances (from a table first developed by C. J. DeMoranville, UMass Cranberry Station, 1997, and revised appropriately in the years since that time; last revised in 2019):

Spring Cranberry Frost Tolerances
Appearance of the bud Early Black & Howes varieties Ben Lear, Stevens, & new hybrid varieties
Spring dormant (bud reddish) 18°F 20°F
White bud stage (loss of dormant color in the bud) 20°F 22°F
Loosening of bud scales (Bud Swell Stage) 22°F 25°F*
Bud Break (cabbage head or popcorn stage); 2mm bud 25°F* 27°F**
Bud elongation (Bud is growing out/up) 27°F** 29.5-30°F
Roughneck (more than 1/2″ new growth) through hook stage 29.5-30° F 29.5-30° F
Hook Stage and Bloom (flower buds fully expanded and open) 29.5-30° F 29.5-30° F

* = After 5-7 days, increase tolerance to 27° F even if there is no change in appearance.
** = After 5-7 days, increase tolerance to 29.5°-30° F even if there is no change in appearance.

Fall Cranberry Frost Tolerances
Maturity Level of the Fruit
Early Black Howes Stevens Ben Lear
Deep blush on exposed surface 27° F 27° F 27° F 27° F
Deep blush 26° F 26° F 26° F 26° F
Red 25° F 25° F 25° F 25° F
Deep red 23° F 23° F 23° F 24° F
Maroon (1-2 weeks later) 23° F 20° F 22° F 24° F
Over-ripe (end of October) 23° F 23° F ** 23° F ** 24° F

** = loss of tolerance when over-ripe

Please note that each variety will reach a given stage on a different date. Generally, Early Black and Ben Lear will both color early and Howes and Stevens will color later.  This tolerance chart is based on color development, which is used as a visual guide to ripening, a chemical and physiological process. In some years, lower tolerances were found. However, we cannot predict when this will occur so conservative figures are presented here. In each of three years, cranberries showed tolerances at least as low as these for the stages listed.