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Canada: Eastern Ontario fruit escapes severe damage

The damage to Ontario apple crops has been well documented recently, however, it seems that the Eastern orchards have escaped much of the damage.

"Here in Eastern Ontario, we are not so bad off," says Kevin Schooley, Executive Director of Ontario Strawberry Growers and an advisor to both apple and strawberry producers. "We should see closer to normal crops." But this end of the province didn’t "come out unscathed," noted Schooley earlier this month.

He estimates that, on the whole, Ontario apple and strawberry yields will drop by around 70% this year.

Claire Taylor, owner of Cannamore Orchards, near Morewood, was taking a wait-and-see approach, saying they weren't quite sure how the crop would fare this season.

"We should know in 10 days or so how much damage the blossoms have," she said. "At this point it's a guessing game. The blossoms are in the pink stage now." The blossoms usually open to full bloom around the May long weekend, but Taylor expects it to be a week earlier than that.

Once the flowes are fully opened she will be able to determine how much damage the pollen sustained during the cold spell and, as a result, estimate how much fruit loss she can expect.

In Iroquois, Paul Dentz, of Dentz Orchards and Berry Farm, said he expects to see a normal crop this year. "We were able to protect our crop with the measures we have in place," said Dentz.

Barkley’s Apple Orchard proprietor Bill Barkley said most of the blossoms at his place were "still pretty tight" when temperatures dipped last month, so they’re likely to have pulled through OK.

Some of his blossoms were "sticking out pretty well" when temperatures dropped down to -4 or -5 C, and those have been naturally "thinned" from the clusters. "There was a little bit of damage, but I’m not too worried," reported the Morrisburg-area grower.

"You’ll probably see smaller berries this year, but I don’t think volume-wise you’ll see less," said Barkley, who also pointed out that irrigation is used to mitigate potential strawberry flower damage on cold nights.

Eastern Ontario has fared better than the rest of the region as the growing season there is just that little further behind, which meant the plants were not so vulnerable when the frosts struck.

Source: agrinewsinteractive.com

Publication date: 6/11/2012


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