Roller coaster weather may cause delay in local crop growth

CASTLETON, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A possible hard freeze Monday night could mean more bad news for crops in the Capital Region.

Mother Nature took the Capital Region on a roller coaster ride with a warmer and not so snowy winter. But then there were multiple cold snaps, which has been rough on local farmers.

With another frost possible on Monday night, apple orchards are preparing for even more of a loss.

At Goold Orchards, it’s easy to see the damage already done by a warmer winter and a sudden late season frost.

“They’re dead; they’re gone,” Ed Miller of Goold Orchards said.

Close to 75 percent of Goold apple crop is dead due to a late season snowfall at the start of April. What is supposed to look like an endless sea of white and pink apple blossoms is instead patches of green and brown.

“That right there used to be a flower bud, and if you touch it, it falls off,” Miller said.

There’s really very little they can do to compete with the weather.

“All farmers have a silent partner – and we don’t talk about it too much – but her name is Mother Nature, and every so often, she comes along and lets us know who is in charge, and that’s what happens here,” Miller said.

Farmers said the possible overnight frost could impact their busy tourist season over the summer and those who work for them.

A McIntosh apple tree that would normally produce six to eight bushels of apples may only produce once bushel. As a result, the frost could result in less apples for tourists to pick.

“People were very upset with us that we ruined their weekends,” Miller said.

It could also mean fewer jobs. Goold will only hire one-third the normal amount of help in the summer and fall.

“I will probably have less workers because there’s not going to be a big crop,” Miller said.

Some orchards will run fans or hire a helicopter to stir the air and prevent freezing, but at Goold, the orchard is hoping their rolling hills will help keep the air flowing.

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