A mild winter and an early spring has left the Hudson Valley’s orchards positioned for a full crop of what Steve Clarke calls the full menu: apples, cherries, peaches, plums, apricots, pears. “The weather has been very, very stable and the potential is certainly there for a very large crop of fruit,″ said Clarke, co-owner of Prospect Hill Orchards in Milton.
The caution in Clarke’s observation reflects the risk of a cold snap that could still damage the tender flower buds on the trees. The weather has coaxed them from dormancy a little earlier than usual and left them vulnerable.
Tim Dressel, co-owner of Dressel Farms in New Paltz, echoed Clarke and pointed out temperatures are forecast to slip below freezing Thursday night. Just one night at 22o or 23oF now could pose a problem.
“We haven’t had a frost and there’s always the potential for one at this time of year,″ said Dan Donahue, the tree fruit specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension in the Hudson Valley. “Everything in agriculture is timing.”