Apple harvest at some farms completely destroyed by deep freeze
It was perfect weather this weekend for fall activities, but the ripple effect from a mid-spring deep freeze is impacting apple farms throughout parts of Western New York. The drop in temperatures back in May is responsible for wiping out this year’s entire harvest on some of these farms.
News10NBC visited Whittier Fruit Farm in Ogden, which is dealing with this very problem. Longtime Manager Jermaine Douglas says the deep freeze, which lasted an estimated four hours, caused irreparable damage.
“You can do everything right as a farmer, and still end up losing all your crop,” said Douglas.
Half of Whittier Fruit Farm’s 60 acres should be brimming with apples right now. Instead, a drop in temperatures back in the spring destroyed the crop for the first time in 49-years. Douglas said the farm did everything right, but Mother Nature dealt them a bad hand.
“Around May 18th what happened is the temperature dropped from its normal standard of normally 32 degrees, if it comes to a frost to like 30 degrees. This year we dropped all the way down to 26 at some spots,” said Douglas.
That affected the quality of the apples, leaving them too tough to eat. Whittier lost 98 percent of its crop.
“Nothing in the orchard had a chance of survival,” said Douglas.
The popular “Pick Your Own Apple” option was canceled this season.
“We’re down a lot in terms of sales, in terms of customers, in terms of people that we hire because we just don’t have enough. So, it affects us in a very big way to where we’re just keeping our lights on right now,” said Douglas.
Apples are still sold on site, grown at the farm’s Niagara County location — a relief to customers like Eileen Snyder from Gates.
“We picked up some Cortlands for eating, and 20-Ounces for baking. I’m baking a pie to bring to my sons tonight,” said Snyder.
Besides the apples from Niagara County, Whittier sells other produce like peaches, pears, and peppers at its store.