Apple Growers Optimistic About Crop
Despite unpredictable weather patterns, many apple growers in Western New England say they expect a solid harvest this year. And -- they say -- thanks to warmer-than-usual temperatures, their apples will be available earlier than usual this year. New England Public Radio's Adam Frenier has the details.
A warm March brought apple-blossoms out several weeks ahead of schedule. But, when nighttime temperatures dipped below freezing in late April, some growers lost a significant portion of their potential crop even before fruit began to grow. Jon Clements is an Agricultural Extension Educator at UMass-Amherst. He says the amount of frost damage to blossoms depended on an orchard's elevation.
"We had some cold temperatures when the trees were coming into bloom or in bloom, so orchards lower in elevation did suffer some damage to the bloom, and therefore, did not set as many apples as they would have otherwise. Orchards that had better elevation and less susceptible to being frozen have a nice crop."
Clements works at the University's Cold Spring Research Orchard in Belchertown. He says the orchard suffered some crop loss in its lowest parts, but he expects a good harvest. For the region, while it won't be a bumper crop, he predicts a good apple season. Clements says while apples will be available across the region into October, harvests are running one to two weeks ahead of schedule due to warm summer weather. Apple growers in Vermont say they are also optimistic about their harvest despite similar early spring conditions. However, some neighboring states are not as fortunate. The U-S Department of Agriculture expects the apple crop in New York to be down by over fifty percent from last year. For New England Public Radio, I'm Adam Frenier.