HALIFAX – Apple growers in Nova Scotia say they’re concerned about this year’s crop after a particularly harsh winter season.
Snow drifts up to four feet high still cover some orchards in Canning, N.S.
“It’s not uncommon to get snow in Nova Scotia, but we always have it melt,” said Peter Elderkin of Elderkin Farm Markets. “But this year we got snow and it just built up and built up.”
In some orchards, the snow is finally starting to melt, but work to get trees ready this year has been delayed by weeks due to weather conditions.
“This year is quite extreme as far as getting around and getting some of the work done, so it’s going to be harder to catch up, harder to get the work done that we absolutely have to do,” said Andrew Bishop of Noggins Farms.
The heavy snowfall left a lot of damage — branches have been broken, trees have been uprooted and very little pruning has been done so far.
“It affects quality for sure. Volume and quality,” said Elderkin. “We’d like to have as much as we can done, but as with everybody we’re at the mercy of the weather.”
Farmers are also concerned about being able to get rid of a destructive disease that has been plaguing the Annapolis Valley region. An outbreak of fire blight hit 90 per cent of the orchards in Nova Scotia last summer, affecting about 10,000 trees. Work to get rid of the blight is still ongoing.
Apple growers need to be able to remove the affected parts of the trees to limit the spread to this year’s crop — another task that’s been delayed.
“Part of getting rid of cleaning it up, getting it disease free, is getting the old cankers out of the tree, getting the dead wood out,” said Bishop.
This year’s apple crop is already expected to arrive a week or two late. Farmers are hoping for a good haul, but say they’re worried.
“I’ve heard people say there could be an apple shortage and it just depends on the amount of damage, and if the fire blight isn’t removed and how bad that is,” said Elderkin.
The first apples are expected to be on store shelves in July.