Fruit Freeze Worst in 40 Years
With the great Easter weekend cold snap of 2007 behind us, fruit growers, both private and commercial, are adding up their loses after a 4th straight night of sub freezing temperatures. To say the blossoms were nipped in the bud is a trite but true statement. “It looks like a blow torch scalded them, the early varieties are severely hurt”, said Gary Richards of the famous Richard Brothers groves in Jackson Ohio. Those early apples include the McIntosh which Gary said never had a chance. “It dropped to 19 on Saturday morning here in the hills. That’s way too cold for apple blossoms already in full bloom.”
As we are head into night five of this spring cold snap, growers like Gary are comparing this freeze to the great fruit freeze of the 1960s. “It was either 1963 or 1966, Tony, we had a bad one that year and this one looks just as bad”.
What made this cold spell so devastating was the long warm wave of late March and early April when high temperatures soared into the 70s on 11 days (6 of those days were in the 80s). That meant fruit trees moved along faster than usual in their early season development stages and were in full bloom by April 3rd. That set the stage for an especially cruel April Fools joke for local fruit growers.
While early varieties of apples are lost, Gary meekly held out hope for the late brands including the Rome Beauties and Jonathon’s. “We won’t know about the late bloomers like the Golden Delicious until we get another warm spell. Then we will be able to ascertain how much damage was done.”
Word from Ohio State University suggests the area south of I-70 took the brunt of the damage as trees were farther along that those of more northern Ohio.