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Fruit crop rebounds after 2012 freeze

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 July 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Roger Lamont is pleased with the progress of these Honeycrisp apples and others at his fruit farm on Densmore Road in Albion. Lamont and many other growers had a small crop to pick last year.

Last year Orleans County’s leading crop was decimated by a series of spring freezes that killed blossoms on fruit trees.

There were far fewer apples in the fall. Statewide the apple crop totaled 720 million pounds last year compared to 1.22 billion in 2011. The diminished number meant fewer jobs picking fruit, sorting and packing apples in packing houses, and transporting them on delivery trucks.

This year should be a different story. Farmers say they have been blessed with ample rain and lots of sunshine. They should see a full crop that is high in flavor, said Debbie Breth, a fruit specialist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension. She is based out of the CCE’s office in Knowlesville.

“The quality will definitely be good,” Breth said today. “We’ve had plentiful moisture and the sunshine makes sugar.”

Last year the apple crop was down 41 percent in a $300 million annual industry in New York.

This year’s prolonged cool spring actually has been good for the apple crop, allowing for an extended pollination.

Breth said farmers have had to contend with more pests this year because many farms cut back on the use of sprays last year when they lost their crop. Some of the pests and insects wintered in the orchards and have required more effort to combat this year, she said.

But she is pleased overall with how the trees have rebounded after last year. The crop also is benefitting from a bigger output from many recently planted high-density orchards, she said.