March freeze causes big losses for orchards
Posted at: 06/15/2012 10:03 AM
| Updated at: 06/15/2012 5:35 PM
By: Ray Levato | WHEC.com
Apple growers call it a disaster. It’s now clear that the hard freeze back in late March has devastated area orchards and one local grower says this could even impact the world market for apples.
New York State is the nation’s second biggest apple producer after Washington State. Most of the Empire State’s production is in the area and a lot of growers had no crop insurance. With far less fruit to harvest, the question becomes, what will a locally grown apple cost you?
If disappointment and heartache were tears, Marty Schutt would need boxes of tissues. He has raspberries and strawberries, but virtually no apples, cherries or peaches in his 60 acres of orchards.
Marty Schutt, Schutt's Cider Mill, said, “Where there should be 10-15 bushels of apples, I'm having a hard time finding just one.”
The frost killed flower buds that had opened early because of the unusually warm March weather.
Schutt said, “It's going to be a tough year to get through. We didn't have any insurance and the government I don't think is going to help out. It's funny I'd like to get some of the tax dollars I've paid over the last 20 years back.”
In Webster, Gary Herman is luckier than most. He figures he can salvage 25 percent of his apple crop.
Gary Herman, Herman's Farm Market & Cider Mill, said, “Yeah, you've got areas of the orchard that are like this with a significant amount of apples, but there are other areas of the orchard that are completely blank.”
Herman figures he also has about a 20 percent peach crop.
Herman said, “Yeah, you can see there's fruit in here. There's not a lot.”
Herman worries that people will pay only so much for an apple. He doesn't want to alienate his customers with higher prices he needs to stay afloat.
Herman said, “You still have to take care of and maintain those trees so that you're not adversely affecting your crop for next year.”
At Schutt's Cider Mill, News10NBC met Lynn and Jim Furness from Lexington, Kentucky who were up visiting their grandchildren. They love the cider even if it's to be made with more expensive apples this year.
Jim Furness said, “We'll still buy our cider though.”
Lynn Furness said, “We'll be back. We wouldn't come to Rochester without stopping here.”
What will an apple cost? At this point, no one knows. Empire and Red Delicious are two of the varieties that took the biggest hit from the freeze.
Washington is expected to have a bumper crop this year, but Herman says it can cost $10,000 to ship one tractor-trailer load of apples from Washington State. Schutt’s Cider Mill will be open.