Cherry blossoms to peak earlier than expected

Friday - 3/20/2009, 7:15pm EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) - The National Park Service says the cherry trees surrounding the Tidal Basin will peak earlier this year than initially expected.

Park Service horticulturist Rob DeFeo said Friday he now believes that most of the 3,700 trees will be bursting with pink and white blossoms from April 1 through April 4.

DeFeo initially predicted the peak bloom period would run from April 3 to April 9. He cited warmer than expected weather in announcing the earlier dates.

Peak bloom occurs when 70 percent of the flowers are out. The entire blooming period is expected to last from March 28 to April 11.

This year's National Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 28 to April 12.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)