Apple growers are facing varying degrees of damage to their orchards from a heavy frost that hit Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. Orchards, which are post-bloom, endured -3°C and -4°C temperatures overnight on June 4 and into the next morning. The Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival took place just a few days before the frost, on May 23 - 28.
“There are growers that don’t seem to have much damage at all where they’re located and others in the lower parts of the floor of the valley where damage is fairly extensive but still have some viable fruit on the trees,” says Stephen Van Meekeren, president and co-owner of Van Meekeren Farms.
Prior to the cold weather, Van Meekeren says there was good bloom on the trees and they experienced excellent growing conditions. The three to four days of warm, windy conditions were “ideal pollination weather.” In the end, he says some growers who were not hit too severely may have a good crop but for others it could mean very low profit if they have little viable fruit left. The extent of damage will also affect the thinning window, which is approaching.
“I think growers will be quite cautious to thin now until they make a good assessment on what’s left,” says Van Meekeren. “Likely we’ll be hand thinning more than chemical thinning this year.” This will offer better control over what fruit can be saved as well as certain parts on more affected trees.
“We’re also anticipating quite a bit of russeting and scarring. Hand thinning would be the way to remove that fruit further into the growing season,” he says.