Local farmers assess potential damage to crops after April snow

SCHODACK, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Monday’s winter weather could have an effect on the fruit many enjoy during the summer.

On Monday, the Capital Region saw its most significant snowfall of the year, and temperatures dropped into the teens. Now, local farmers are worried the cold temperatures could have killed much of their peach, grapevine, and apple crops.

Ed Miller, of Goold Orchards, said, at 15 degrees, he could lose up to 90 percent of his apple crops. Monday night, temperatures hit 12 degrees at the orchard.

Miller spent Tuesday assessing the damage. First, he cut open a McIntosh bud.

“Inside of each one of those buds has the potential of five flowers, which will be the crop,” he said. “That one is black. That’s dead.”

Then he checked the Empire apples.

“Different variety. More damage,” he said.

In a good year, Miller said the orchard will average anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 bushels of apples. Even though the black buds are a sign of lost crop, he won’t know the real extent of the damage for several weeks.

goold orchard crop 040516

“You’ve got what looks like a couple of live ones,” he said. “But you’ve got two maybe alive and three dead. Until we see what’s going on, decisions aren’t made, yet.”

Steve Ammerman with the New York Farm Bureau said similar occurrences happened to the crops in 2012, and farmers statewide lost tens of millions of dollars in crops.

“Even with a disaster declaration, farmers may be able to recoup some of their loss, but it still can’t compare to the overall economic impact that it could have on their operations,” he said.

Ammerman agrees with Miller. He said it’s too early to tell how much damage the weather caused.

“When it comes to apple orchards and fruit trees, a lot of it depends on the topography of the farm,” Ammerman said.

“A lot of times when you get damage and frost, you’ll get it in the bottom of the tree and you’ll have a crop up in the top of the tree,” Miller said.

Even so, looking at the buds, Miller is already thinking about the financial hit he could see.

“We’ll start cutting back and saving every place we can,” he said.

The buds currently on trees are the only ones farmers will get this year. But whether or not those will turn into apples is still yet to be seen.

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