Canada/US Great Lakes Area Fruit Growers “Wipeout” Due to Extreme Spring. Deniers: “They Need More CO2”
May 18, 2012
Elsewhere on the blog, we are still hearing that “CO2 is good for Plants”. Meanwhile, here in the reality based community….
A catastrophic freeze has wiped out about 80 per cent of Ontario’s apple crop and has the fruit industry looking at losses already estimated at more than $100 million.
“This is the worst disaster fruit growers have ever, ever experienced,” Harrow-area orchard owner Keith Wright said Friday. “We’ve been here for generations and I’ve never heard of this happening before.
“This is unheard of … all fruit growing areas in the Great Lakes area, in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York State, Ontario, are all basically wiped out.”
Wright lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of apples and peaches Sunday morning when freezing temperatures killed the blossoms.
Warm temperatures caused fruit trees to bloom early and when temperatures plummeted Sunday morning it damaged or wiped out much of the $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.
Brian Gilroy, a Georgian Bay-area apple grower who is chairman of the Ontario Apple Growers, said the loss to fruit growers and the economy will easily be more than $100 million. 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.
Gilroy said consumers will find locally grown apples pricey and difficult to find this fall. Some varieties 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, he said.
The early warm weather in March, followed by sudden flash freezes, has caused devastating losses to tender fruit and apple growers in a large part of southern Ontario.
Steve Smith says there are no blossoms on his apple trees in Port Elgin, about 40 kilometres southwest of Owen Sound, which means there will be no apples.
Agriculture specialist John Cline at the University of Guelph says the apple industry alone in Ontario is worth up to $400 million.
Normally at this time of year, Steve Smith’s apple orchards would be awash in pink and white blossoms. But this spring, an unseasonably warm March followed by a series of freezing snaps have wiped out his entire crop.
“There’s nothing – not one blossom,” says Mr. Smith, owner of Smiths’ Apples and Farm Market in Port Elgin, Ont. Last year, his small farm, which generally does brisk business in pick-your-own apples, produced around 82,000 kilograms of apples. This year, he says he won’t likely produce a single apple.
“I’ll tell you, I’ve never seen anything like this,” he says.
Extreme weather over the past few months has had a devastating impact on fruit growers throughout Ontario, Quebec, and northeastern United States. Unusually warm temperatures in March coaxed fruit trees out of their winter dormancy early. Subsequent deep frosts, occurring as recently as late April, damaged the blossoms, crippling their ability to pollinate. In Ontario, the fruit industry is expecting to record tens of millions of dollars in losses, according to early estimates.