July 18, 2012
As many people know, the area of Wayne County was hit with a very hard freeze this spring and area farmers are continuing to see the effects. While I have been working for CPS this summer, I have had everyone from customers to passersby ask me questions about the effects of the frost. My response is always the same, “it varies a lot and farmers are dealing with it by doing different things.” For this blog, I am going to elaborate on this answer.
When I say the crop amount varies, I don’t just mean town by town or farm by farm. It literally varies block by block. I took two pictures of trees today from not only the same farm, but the same block. The first tree has a full crop of apples and is in good shape due to location. The second tree doesn’t have a single apple because it was on the side of a hill. In this particular block, there is a hill and only the top three rows have apples. Below, the rows have a decreasing load, until about the 10th row, and from there down there are no apples.
Some farmers had a wind machine (pictured below) that pushes cold air up in hopes that warmer air will take its place. These are proven to help reduce the effect of inversion layers. These machines are not overly popular because of their sticker price. They can cost $25,000 to $40,00 a piece and about $300 dollars each day one is on.
After talking to the majority of the farmers in the area, as well as several consultants, the general consensus is that there is only about 30% of an apple crop for the region, as a whole. Some farmers lost everything this year, and petitioned to receive retroactive insurance for crops like cherries, peaches, and pears. If this bill passes, farmers could purchase insurance now and still claim this year’s loss. The plan would only pay out up to 60% revenue, but this is a lot better than the current total loss. This would greatly help the area to get through 2012 and at least make it to 2013.
Without a crop, farmers are taking this time to complete major farm projects. Several farmers are taking out old trees and replacing them with high-demand varieties. Pictured is an example where the farmer removed and piled 10 acres of trees.