Less Fruit? Blame Early Spring and Late Frost

May 8, 2012

Farmer's Markets and roadside stands won't have as many peaches and apples for sale this season.

A mild winter, an early spring and late frosts have wreaked havoc on local orchards.

Adam Voll is the Farm Manager at Soergel Orchards, a 450-acre operation in Wexford where vegetables and fruits, including apples and peaches, are grown.

"The fruit is suffering the most because the warm weather bought everything on a good four weeks ahead of schedule," said Voll.

The blossoms on the trees came a full month early this year and then froze over. Once a blossom is frozen, fruit can't form any more.

Some of the blossoms are in different stages and all of the trees were affected differently. For example, some of their apples, such as Empire and MacIntosh, lost 20 to 30 percent of their crop.

Their peaches were most affected.

"The peaches will be a lot lighter. Peaches are still a little more susceptible to the cold, and they took a little bit harder of a hit. We probably lost 60 to 70 percent anyway of the peach crop," said Voll.

Also in Wexford is Shenot Farm, a 100-acre operation. Rob Shenot, a manager at the farm, said the mild winter will cause more bugs this growing season.

"Pathogenisis and fungal and bacterial problems are going to be worse this year because we never really got a really hard freeze for an extended period of time. Typically in this region, we can rely on mother nature cleaning things up a little bit for us," Shenot said.

The farmers said there is no year in recent history that has had weather that has fluctuated so wildly and has caused such losses.