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Cold spell devastates apples, tender fruits sector

Weather causes losses to Ontario apple and tender fruit crops; loss to growers and economy could reach $100 million


Georgian Bay & Niagara, Ont. – Recent frigid temperatures have had catastrophic effects on the province’s apples and tender fruits, such as peaches, sour cherries, pears, plums and nectarines.

Ontario farmers are calling it the “worst disaster fruit growers have ever, ever experienced,” reports the Montreal Gazette.com.

Farmers, who in many cases have owned their orchards for generations, are saying they’ve never heard of all fruit-growing areas – such as the Great Lakes area, in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York State and Ontario – being so badly affected with crops in many instances being wiped out.

Warm spell, cold spell = losses

The warm temperatures in March caused fruit trees to bloom early. But when temperatures recently dropped, it damaged or wiped out 80 per cent of Ontario’s “$60-million apple crop and 20 to 30 per cent of Ontario’s $48-million tender fruit crop, which includes peaches, cherries, pears, plums and nectarines,” reports the Gazette.

Many farmers have lost anywhere up to 90 per cent of their fruit buds.

The Montreal Gazette.com reports that that the loss to fruit growers and the economy will easily be more than $100 million.

And on top of the lost yield or no crop at all, orchard workers and spinoff industries such as juice, packing, storage and farm supplies will be affected.

The story goes onto say that consumers will find locally grown apples pricey and difficult to find this fall. Some kinds of apples such as Empire will be very difficult to find.

Washington State has a good crop but consumers should expect apple prices to jump because all of northeastern North America was affected.

What crop growers do get will likely have visible damage such as apples with ridges like the ones on pumpkins.

About 65 per cent of the 215 commercial apple growers in Ontario have crop insurance but the disaster has the board approaching the provincial and federal governments for help under an agri-recovery program.