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Current Position:Home » News » General News » Topic

April cold threatens losses of fruit crop in northeastern US

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2016-04-07  Views: 13
Core Tip: Ongoing waves of cold during early April are taking a toll on fruit tree blossoms in parts of the northeastern United States.
Ongoing waves of cold during early April are taking a toll on fruit tree blossoms in parts of the northeastern United States.

Farmers are holding their breath as they wait out the cold to inspect the impact on trees.

The combination of a very mild winter, above-average temperatures during March and the most recent bout of below-freezing temperatures have caused damage to some fruit crops.

"The amount of damage varies from orchard to orchard and from tree to tree," according to Jason Coopey, co-owner of Way Fruit Farm in Stormstown, Pennsylvania.

Coopey stated that thus far apricots and plums have sustained the most damage, but overall his orchards, which are on the tops of hills have fared better than some locations farther south and east and those located in valleys, where the cold air tends to settle.

"We expect significant losses, 90-100 percent of peaches and plums, now at full bloom," according to Chris Harner, of Harner Farms in State College, Pennsylvania.

"Apples are farther behind [in central Pennsylvania] but are entering sensitive stages where we can have damage or loss," Harner said.

Fruit trees in the blossoming stage, as opposed to budding, are very susceptible to damage with temperatures in the middle to upper 20s.

Michigan Blueberry Growers’ CEO Larry Ensfield says cold temperatures could be a problem.

We are looking at some weather events this week that could affect the crop,” he says. Temperatures Tuesday morning locally were down into the low 20s, and Ensfield says they could fall into the mid-teens in other areas later in the week and could damage the crop. However, he says, “any damage would depend on variety, location, developmental stage, and temperature duration.”

Southwest Michigan fruit crops shouldn’t be too damaged from the overnight cold temperatures the region has been experiencing this week. MSU Extension Fruit Educator Mark Longstroth says it’s been cold at night, but not so cold that the blueberries, strawberries, and grapes have been hurt.
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