Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Wild spring weather swings hurt New York’s fall apple harvest » Yale Climate Connections

Apple season is winding down in New York’s Finger Lakes Region. And would-be pickers may have found less fruit than usual this year.

A warm spell in the early spring lured fruit trees out of their winter dormancy.

Then, on May 18, temperatures plunged into the mid-20s, killing blossoms and baby fruit.

Stoscheck: “We lost 100% of our crop, for all intents and purposes.”

That’s Autumn Stoscheck. She and her husband own Eve’s Cidery and grow more than 50 varieties of apples.

She says this year’s late frost was extreme. But as the climate warms, fruit trees often blossom earlier than they used to.

Stoscheck: “And then even the normal level of frost and freeze is too much because they’re too far developed. … And they don’t come back. You don’t get another chance ‘til the next year.”

Stoscheck had to buy other growers’ apples to make cider this year. And she knows at least one grower who was forced to close their business.

Stoscheck: “It takes decades and decades to build these farms and build these farm communities and farm systems, and it can go away in a year if you just can’t make it work financially because you’ve lost your entire crop.”

So the warming climate is hard on apples and the people whose livelihoods depend on them.

Reporting Credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media

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