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A tough spring: no apples, drought, smoke

A tough spring: no apples, drought, smoke

I hate to be the barer of bad news, but we have lost our entire apple crop for 2023 due to the May 17 deep freeze. Growers to the north of us between Seneca and Cayuga lake fared better, but everyone in our area suffered major damages to their fruit crops this year. 

About a week after the deep freeze damaged our apple crop, the baby apples swiftly began to abort and fall off the trees. This photo is of hundreds of aborted baby apples that were killed by the freeze.

The good news is, if we can keep the birds and other critters out, we are expecting a partial blueberry crop this year. Our blueberry bushes were also hit hard by the deep freeze. All the flowers that were open were killed, but the flowers that had not yet opened mostly survived. We suspect that the wild fruit will be scarce this year, however, and there will be a lot of animal pressure on any blueberries we may have. Keeping our fingers crossed!

To make this spring even more challenging, the Finger Lakes Region slipped into a drought, with no rainfall for 6 weeks between the end of April and mid-June. We are thankful to have a productive, deep well, and have been irrigating our crops 24/7. Even though our apple trees do not have fruit, drought stress can be harmful to the health and vitality of our trees and other crops. It has been especially important to irrigate our garlic crop, since it is looking very good, and we want the bulbs to size up nicely!

On top of it all, our area was blanketed in thick, orange smoke during the week of June 5 from the hundreds of wildfires raging in Canada. The first day of thick smoke, the air smelled strongly of burning plastic, which was very strange. Successive days, the air smelled like normal wood smoke. The AQI, or "Air Quality Index", was 391 one day, which means it was dangerous to be outside. We still had to work on the farm, so Crystal wore a respirator, and Scott wore a face mask, and we carried on. It felt surreal, though, and truly apocalyptic.

Thankfully, the smoke cleared after a few days, and rain came the week of June 12. We'll have to wait and see what else this season has in store for us!

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