Ontario growers are breathing a sigh of relief following last week’s drop in temperatures and wet snow.
On apples, Cathy McKay, the Ontario Apple Growers chair and an apple grower and operator of a pick-your-own orchard near Port Perry, ON says it surveyed its growers about the effects of the weather in the key growing regions which include Southwest Ontario, London, Niagara, Georgian Bay and east of Toronto. “Most places are now at the tight cluster bud stage and reporting very little damage,” she says. “We’ve had three or four days of below zero temperatures. But because we’re still at that tight cluster stage, the buds aren’t getting killed which is good. There are some pockets of damage though.”
To mitigate the temperatures, McKay says those growers that did have frost fans were running them as long as it was a still night.
Ontario Apple Growers says most places are now at the tight cluster bud stage and reporting very little damage following Ontario's recent lower temperatures.
Apple crop ahead
In fact, to date, Ontario’s apple crop had been ahead and was already at where it would normally be at the first of May. “We were two weeks ahead in the beginning of April,” says McKay. She notes that bloom in Ontario should happen approximately two weeks from now, though the earlier regions would be more like 10 days.
On tender fruit, Sarah Marshall of Ontario Tender Fruit/Fresh Grape Growers in St. Catharines, ON says the majority of its crops--approximately 95 percent--are in the Niagara region. “Other regions had some lower temperature than Niagara did. Whenever you have anything below -3 Celsius during bloom, it does become a concern. But we really don’t know yet,” she says, adding that the other five percent of production lies within the Simcoe area as well as Leamington/Essex.
Peach blooms like this one could come earlier this season in Ontario.
Marshall notes though that there were winds happening as well which helped. “Then it moves whatever warm air through instead of having that “dead calm” that’s colder. And the moisture from the snow provided some insulation as well,” she says.
Looking ahead, Marshall says if fruit development continues well in the next few weeks, it too could have an earlier season on a good crop.
On ground crops in Huron County, Jackie Rowe of The Garlic Box in Hensall, ON says that growers have not reported any field damage. “This is even though the crop is well emerged and already sports six leaves,” says Rowe. She does add that garlic is a tolerant crop and has been wintering in the fields since last October.