by Duane Nichols on March 13, 2024

An actual warm spring could mean bad news for NY fruit crops

Apples orchards have becoming popular in upstate New York

From an Article from WRVO by Abigail Connolly ~
This apple shows signs of a 2023 late spring frost with its discoloration.

Some warmer spring temperatures have already hit much of New York – and that could be bad for fruit crops.

With some 70 degree days already hitting much of the upstate region, an early spring may not be a good thing, according to Jason Londo, an associate professor of fruit crop physiology at Cornell University. He said with warmer weather, fruit crops may start dropping their defenses.

“We typically get plenty of cold weather in the month of March and even into April,” Londo said. “So the more heat we have now, the less defended our crops are to those types of freeze events that could happen,”

As temperatures increase, many fruit crops lose their resiliency to the cold, making them more susceptible to frost or cold damage. A late freeze last May caused damage to some apple and grape crops across the state. This year, Londo is remaining optimistic.

“I’m nervous, but it just depends, if it calms down and it just kind of goes through the rest of spring very cool, we’re fine,” Londo said. “It’s really if we have more spikes of heat and any oscillations.”

But if a late freeze does come, there is little New York growers can do. New York lacks the infrastructure some southern climate growers have and technology hasn’t moved fast enough to develop a viable solution. Despite a limited number of options to help protect crops, Londo said New York growers are strong.

“We have a resilient industry,” Londo said. “We have to keep that investment going, we have to keep positive, optimistic thoughts about how to mitigate this and work together.”

Londo said this is something the industry may have to get used to. “This sort of weather is going to continue to be unpredictable and it can be scary but I also have a lot of faith in the agriculture industry of this state,” Londo said.

Londo said fruit crops will be stronger if cooler temperatures remain through April.

Abigail Connolly ~ Abigail is a temporary WRVO News Reporter/Producer working on regional and digital news stories. She graduated from SUNY Oswego in 2022 where she studied English and Public Relations. Abigail enjoys reading, writing, exploring CNY and spending time with family and friends. Abigail first joined the WRVO team as a student reporter in June 2022.

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