Midwest Growers Still Grappling With After-Effects Of Cold Winter

Are you seeing winter injury on your crops this year?

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Strawberry growers in Ohio are noting lower yields this year due to a delayed spring and late ice and cold temperatures. Many strawberry plants in the state were damaged in the cold that continued into April.

Mark Stokes of Stokes Berry Farm in Wilmington, OH, told the Dayton Daily News he has about 90% of his average crop. According to the article, Jon Branstrator of Branstrator Farm in Clarksville, OH, experienced a significant loss.

“Our Strawberry season is at an early end. We no longer have strawberries for sale in our farm stand or for U-pick this year. The Polar Vortex has taken it’s toll on our crop this year, leaving us with only about 20% of our normal strawberry crop,” Branstrator says on his farm’s website.

Stokes told the newspaper that he expects a lower cropping of his raspberries, due in part to the winter weather.

Low Peach Crop This Year
Kif Hurlbut, deputy director for the USDA’s national field statistics service in the Great Lakes region told the Daily News that he expects damage to Midwestern peaches, based on some anecdotal evidence.

Peach groves in Illinois have taken a big hit due to the Polar Vortex.

Mike Henry told the Belleville News-Democrat he knew his crop at Simonton Orchards in Okawville, IL, was in trouble with the sub-zero temperatures earlier this year. He said he recently counted 15 peaches in his grove.

“In January, it got too cold. I knew we lost everything,” Henry told the newspaper.

Cherries and blueberries are available for picking at Braeutigam Orchards in Belleville, IL, however, the orchard took a significant hit with the peach crop.

“I think we are only going to have 15% to 20% of our crop,” Aaron Province, a farmhand at Braeutigam Orchards, told the newspaper. “I know we lost a few varieties because of the freeze that came while they were blooming.”

According to the article, this past winter was the fourth-coldest on record. Henry said that the low cropping due to winter temperatures is rare.

“It’s kind of unusual to lose them from cold weather. Usually, you lose them from frost during the spring, but this was due to the cold in January,” he said in the news story.

Apples Taking A Hit, Too
In the latest FancyFruit newsletter from Purdue University, Janna Beckerman of the department of botany and plant pathology notes that even apple trees are showing some signs of winter injury.

“Across Indiana, and much of the Midwest, we are receiving reports about older trees that are failing or have failed. Cultivars like Mutsu, Jonagold and Rome seem to be affected at a much higher rate than Golden Delicious, although I’ve received reports of Golden Delicious failing in southern Indiana,” says Beckerman.

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