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Ontario: Frost disaster worst thing ever to happen

A bad freeze has wiped out 80% of the Ontario apple crop, causing damage estimated at over $100 million.  "This is the worst disaster fruit growers have ever, ever experienced," orchard owner Keith Wright said Friday.

"We've been here for generations and I've never heard of this happening before across the province. This is unheard of where all fruit growing areas in the Great Lakes area, in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York State, Ontario, are all basically wiped out. It's unheard of," the Harrow, Ont.-area grower said.

Wright has himself lost thousands of dollars worth of apples and peaches when frosts destroyed the blossoms on his trees.

Brian Gilroy, a Georgian Bay area apple grower who is chairman of the Ontario Apple Growers, said that the estimation of $100 million was very conservative and there would also be a knock on effect that would see impact in the juice industry, packing, storage, etc. that could also effect employment.

The few remaining apples are likely to be in poor condition and show ridges and marks on the surface.

"This past weekend in south western Ontario and the Niagara region temperatures got down to close to -7 (C) while things were out in full bloom and it's pretty well wiped them out," Gilroy said of orchards already hit by previous frosts. "It's very widespread and the worst that anybody's seen."

Gilroy said that the board was going to be approaching the provincial and federal governments for support. He said that, of 215 growers affected, 65 had insurance.

it's not just apples, peaches, plums and nectarines have also been affected.

It depended on location. The board is estimating 20 to 30 per cent of that $48 million crop is done.

Source: www.canada.com

Publication date: 5/7/2012


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