A lot of talk this week has been about the weather, particularly the hard frosts we've had.
The June weather stats showed the lowest temperature for the month was on June 17, with -6.2 degrees Celsius in Blenheim and -8.3C in the Awatere Valley. It was close to that again on Saturday. Hard enough to freeze some pools.
It was suggested by someone with Marlborough roots that I look back at our records to see how cold things used to get, particularly in 1944 and 1945. So I hit the archives and found the worst frost in the region, according to a report on June 9, 1944, was a ground frost of 24 degrees. That's -24C. It was so cold at the headworks of the Waihopai River they had to turn the power station off because of the ice.
"Old-timers who are sometimes inclined to talk of things that happened 50 years ago as eclipsing all modern phenomena spoke very respectfully of today's temperature," the Express reported with a hint of humour.
It was winter, though, and not much real damage was caused.
But a -12C "out-of-season visitation" on October 20, 1945, caused huge problems. It was mid-spring and the land in those days was covered in orchards and market gardens.
Growers could see the frost coming and tried to protect their plants, including the folks at Ivory Bros orchard in Rapaura who burned 2 tonnes of coal in drums in one night to save their 3 hectares of cherry trees. It saved about half the crop, but their 17ha of apples trees were "left to their fate".
An orchard inspector estimated five days later that 20 per cent of the apple crops were destroyed and up to 90 per cent of stone fruit.
A 16ha crop of peas was wiped out, every walnut tree had turned black and a 20ha crop of early potatoes had been "cut back".
Everyone in those days had big home vege gardens, which were also wiped out by the cold.
Historical stuff, but it shows the temperatures this winter haven't been that bad. And also how much the land use has changed.
- The Marlborough Express