Apple Crop Destroyed. 90 Percent loss in Michigan, Ontario due to Bizarre Spring. Deniers: “More Co2 Needed”.
June 30, 2012
LANSING — Michigan’s apple crop will be about 90% smaller than usual this year because of spring weather damage.
The Michigan Apple Committee said Thursday that growers, shippers and other industry insiders predict about 3 million bushels will be harvested. In a typical year, the state produces 20 million to 23 million bushels, pumping up to $900 million into the economy.
The committee says it’s the biggest apple crop loss since the 1940s.
Apple trees bloomed early because of an extraordinary heat wave in March. Then came a series of frosts and freezes that killed most of the blossoms. Some areas suffered more than others.
Gov. Rick Snyder has requested federal disaster assistance for Michigan’s fruit growers. The Legislature has passed a bill offering low-interest loans for farmers with ruined crops.
It’s worse than feared for apple farmers in Ontario.
Ontario Apple Growers association chair Brian Gilroy says that it looks like Ontario apple farmers have lost about 88 per cent of their crop this year.
“It’s devastating,” said Gilroy. “The estimates that we gave of there being 20 per cent of the crop left is probably optimistic. We’re looking at probably 12 per cent.”
Warm weather in February and March led to early blossoms that were, in April, burned by frost. A killer blow.
The Ontario Apple Growers surveyed apple farmers in the province. Of more than 220 farmers, only 37 reported back, but the numbers don’t look good.
“On my farm, there’s hardly a McIntosh there,” said Gilroy. ”There’s a large Spy block. You’ll walk by four or five apple trees without seeing anything. The real conundrum is what to do with such a spotty crop as that.”
Gilroy estimated that on his farm, a tree that might normally produce 12 to 15 bushels will only produce one this season.
That also means fewer people needed to pick apples. Gilroy said the damage this season could mean 600 fewer jobs in the Georgian Bay area alone where he farms apples.
Brenda Fletcher of Fletcher Fruit Farm in Binbrook said of the 23 varieties she usually sells, only four or five will produce enough to make it to the market.
Once she gets to the market on Ottawa Street, she’s not sure how long she can stay.
“We may lose our market for the winter,” Fletcher said. “We’re hoping to let our customers know we will be back next year. It was just the weather.”