With Wolfville as a base, the Nova Scotia Fruit Grower’s Association (NSFGA) Annual Orchard Tour Program toured various fruit farms and orchards in the Annapolis Valley on August 2, 2018. The prime concern was frost damage to the apple crop in early June.
Guest speaker Phil Schwallier of Michigan State University discussed fruit tree management as a result of freezing temperatures. His home state of Michigan experienced a deep freeze, which resulted in a 90 per cent crop loss in 2012. Other tour stops included Eisses Farms in Centreville, which focussed on ridging and chemical fruitlet thinning trials with Brevis (metamitron), and Van Meekeren Farms in Lakeville, which showcased alleyway cover crops and their advantages.
With the killing frost the province experienced in the first week of June, an important topic of discussion was the apple harvest says NSFGA president Larry Lutz. The freeze reduced apple crops by close to half.
“Part of the tour focussed on some frost-damaged orchards and we’ll see how they’ll be managed. There will be certainly a reduced volume of apples coming out of Nova Scotia, no question. All varieties will still be there, with lower numbers than what we’d normally have,” Lutz says.
The consumer won’t see any difference in quality, but growers will further be affected because less fruit will be chosen for the fresh market because of the frost damage marks. Other sources for the blemished fruit will likely be for juicing or peeling apples, according to Lutz.
“It’s not ideal but that’s what it is,” he says.