"Going into the cataclysms the weather will become unpredictable, with torrential rainstorms where not expected, and droughts likewise where not expected. Extremes of temperature will be experienced. Unusually warm winters, where the trees and shrubs will start to bud, thinking spring, and then be subjected to frost. Similarly, frosts will come late in the spring, almost into summer, killing the buds which have already put forth their tender shoots."  ZetaTalk - Crop Failure

This grim forecast from 1995 has become a reality.  In just the past 7 days, the following reports demonstrate the accuracy of yet another Zeta prediction heralding the return of Planet X.

April 19
Early Budding, Then Cold Snap, Takes Toll on Iowa Vineyards

Richard Black, of Farnhamville, shows the dead grape shoots that followed last week’s three nights of freezing temperatures. Black said the damage is “severe” and estimates at least 75 percent of his crop was ruined.

April 18
Hailstorms Annihilate California Fruit Crops

"I estimate the damage at anywhere from 80 percent to 100 percent in fields and orchards where the hail struck. The fruit and nut trees were stripped bare. The trees look like they are in midwinter and haven't even budded yet."

April 18

Wisconsin Cherry Growers Expect 50 Percent Loss From Frost Damage

"I've been doing this pretty much all my life. It's been here 130 years in the family, so I'm the fourth generation, so it's our livelihood," he says.  Robertson says he's been worrying about his trees, which he expects will produce about half the cherries they normally do this year. 

April 16
Cold Causes Devastating Loss for Michigan Grape Crop

Southwestern Michigan grape growers are reeling from last week’s freezing temperatures that seem to have wiped out the majority of this season’s grape crop.  “This is the worst situation we’ve had. ... This is devastating for southwest Michigan growers,"

April 14
Minnesota Apple Crop Crippled by Early Warmth Then Freeze

"It's essentially almost a total crop loss this year," said apple farmer Mike Perbix. Perbix owns Sweetland Orchard in Webster. He says he has lost more than 90 percent of his apple crop.

April 13
Huge Crop Losses in Portugal Due to Frost and Drought

Recent early morning frosts and the ongoing drought, have led to an almost total loss of production in a number of fruit and vegetable farms across the Algarve.

April 12
Frosts Damages Up to 90 Percent of Indiana Blueberry Crops

The overnight lows left some blueberry farms with plenty of damage during a season that had been expected to be the best in years. Some farms saw up to 90 percent damage to their crops.

Freeze Causes Widespread Damage to North Carolina Fruit

Cold temperatures Wednesday night caused widespread damage to fruit crops across Henderson County.  Apple trees bloomed two weeks early as a result of the mild winter, and that left them vulnerable to cold temperatures.



April 19
Early Budding, Then Cold Snap, Takes Toll on Iowa Vineyards

FARNHAMVILLE - Richard Black said he knew the killing frost was possible, even to be expected, but some part of him was hoping it wouldn't happen.  But it did.

Last week, with the first primary grape buds out and a month ahead of schedule, temperatures dipped at official measuring sites to 29 degrees and to 24 degrees on Tuesday. Twenty-eight degrees for four hours is considered a hard frost in farming terms.

But according to Black, his thermometer read 17 degrees overnight on Monday, 16 degrees overnight Tuesday and and in the 20s overnight Wednesday. That was enough, he said, to cause significant yield losses to his grapes, especially his early budding varieties.

"It was bad," Black said, who manages 1,600 grape vines in a 3-acre site around his rural Farnhamville home. "It was devastating."

When told that Mike White, Iowa State University's viticulturist, estimated the statewide grape yield loss at 50 percent, Black said, "That would be good news. But Mike is looking at the entire state."

According to White, vineyards north of I-80 were frost-bit more severely than those in southern Iowa counties.

Some growers attempted to keep heat among their vines, or continually spray water on their vines, and some tried spraying liquid potassium, which acts like an antifreeze to protect the buds during the freezing period, White said.

Black didn't try any of those measures.

"There's not a whole lot you can do," Black said. "Most efforts are not effective.

"The most you can do is give the vulnerable buds a 3- to 5-degree protection."

Once the temperature slips to below 25 degrees, all bets are off.

"And it's not like flowers; you can't just throw a blanket over them," Black said. "And we're not the only ones; the same happened to orchards too."

He said the primary buds of Marquette varieties were out to 3 inches long on Sunday. They looked green and lush. Some of the secondary buds were out, as well.

White and Black both said frost damage varies by cultivar and location. Early budbreak varieties, including Marquette, and low-lying areas normally receive the worst damage.

Black said before the frost, "It would be easy for someone to get overly optimistic. You look at the (vines) and think here's a chance to do a really good job by the book all season long.

"And well, here we are ..."

Black fully expects to see a 75 percent yield loss on his grapes.

"But we'll be able to tell better in about two weeks," he said.

He hires three workers throughout the growing season to tend his vineyard. Are they out of work now?

Not at all, Black said. Half of all the work on vine husbandry is for the current crop and half is for the next year's crop.

"The crop is gone," he said, "but we still have to do everything as if it's otherwise, only there's no income coming in."

Crop insurance on grapes? Forget about it, Black said.

"There is insurance, but you can't afford it," he said. The reason is that, unlike corn and soybeans, the sheer numbers of growers are not sufficient to share the risk, so insurance rates are high on grapes.

According to White, there are only 300 Iowa vineyards, cultivating grapes on 1,200 acres statewide.

"This frost did not kill any vines," White said. "It only set us back. The industry will continue to grow."

Disappointed about the frost damage and the lost yields, Black said he tries not to get too down. "I'm not the only one this happened to."

Ajay Nair, an ISU Extension vegetable specialist, said he noticed damage to fruit blossoms at the Horticulture Research Station near Gilbert after the April 10 frost and temperatures were even colder April 11.

Paul Domoto, an ISU Extension fruit specialist, said the temperature dipped to 20 degrees at the horticultural station, a temperature that damages plants, but especially those near the ground, like strawberries. Strawberries are most vulnerable at bloom, however, only the earliest cultivars have reached this stage of development.

The problem with the fruit crops is that the early spring weather sped up blooming, which is a particularly sensitive stage for the plants. Domoto said although there has been damage it's too early to say how bad the freezes were until growers can assess the conditions in their areas, because site conditions and stage of bud and/or shoot development will have a significant influence on the extent of injury.

Nick Howell, superintendent of the Horticultural Research Station, doesn't expect much of an apple crop because of the freezes. He confirmed there was "significant damage" to the station's vineyard and strawberries. Apple trees typically are "in jeopardy" until the middle of May, he said.

Unfortunately, Howell said the expense of pest management in the apple orchard must be maintained even though there are few, if any, apples produced.

April 18
Hailstorms Annihilate California Fruit Crops

A series of freak April storms hammered the San Joaquin Valley last week, damaging vulnerable crops with a one-two-three punch of hail, lightning and tornados that caused millions of dollars of crop losses.

It will be several weeks before an accurate tabulation of losses can be made, but for some growers it amounted to 100 percent of this year's production. A number of crops suffered damage from the unrelenting power of hailstones measuring 1.5 inches in diameter or larger.

Nature's fury came in the form of "supercells"—large thunderstorms that moved slowly across the valley from Kings County, through parts of Tulare County, up to Merced County and all the way eastward to Mariposa County.

The most destructive storm brought torrents of hail across a six-to-eight mile-wide swath of farmland that extended some 30 miles, accompanied by thunderstorms and numerous lightning strikes.

The epicenter of the more significant of two supercells last Wednesday was in Tulare County near Traver. Grower Ed Needham, who was caught driving near Traver when the storm struck, described it as "the sound of someone hitting my truck with a hammer."

Needham said he was in his truck with two other farmers and had pulled over to watch a huge storm cell to the south when the other cell struck from the north.

"It started out small and was no big deal and then all of a sudden the side-view mirrors on my truck shattered and the road started getting covered with huge hailstones. I looked at the wind and saw that it was going south, so I took off and went to the south and got out of it," he said.

Steve Johnson, a storm chaser with Atmospheric Group International, tracked the storms closely and estimated that the damage to agriculture could reach $25 million or more just from the two supercells that hit last Wednesday afternoon.

"While other thunderstorms were moving at about 25 miles per hour, these two slugs were moving at about 7 or 8 miles an hour, so they just trudged along producing very large hail and a high quantity of lightning," he said. "I estimate the damage at anywhere from 80 percent to 100 percent in fields and orchards where the hail struck. The fruit and nut trees were stripped bare. The trees look like they are in midwinter and haven't even budded yet."

Johnson also reported that a third supercell formed over farmland west of Lemoore, producing a tornado, and another one popped up near Huron, causing considerable crop damage to Westside lettuce and tomato fields.

The following day, a supercell formed in Merced County near Dos Palos and moved northeast between Atwater and Merced, once again accompanied by huge hailstones.

"The hailstones were larger than those on the previous day. There was 1 3/4-inch hail that was recorded near Castle Air Force Base, causing a lot of crop damage as well as other damage before moving up into Mariposa County," Johnson said.

John Diepersloot, one of the owners of Kingsburg Orchards, which grows peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots, said the storms wiped out some orchards while leaving adjacent ones unscathed. He said several of his orchards were struck and that while the visible damage is obvious, it will be several days before any accurate assessment can be made.

"Where the hail hit, it is a complete, 100 percent loss. It was hitting in cells, so one area was a complete disaster and another area got missed," he said. "Some of the fields look like they got beat up pretty bad. Most of the apricots, cherries, pluots and plums got scratched up pretty bad or even knocked off the trees."

Diepersloot also noted damage to other crops, particularly grapes and newly transplanted processing tomatoes.

"The tomatoes on certain blocks were stripped down. The transplants had leaves ripped off. The grapes had everything from tender, new shoots to the bark itself torn off. A lot of guys are planting their corn, but it isn't up yet, so that is still in the ground," he said.

John Thiesen, general manager of Giumarra Brothers Fruit Co. of Reedley, said he is still trying to assess the losses, and that enough fruit to fill from 5 million to 12 million boxes may have been lost.

"That is a pretty big span, so no one really knows for sure. But we do know there is very significant damage," he said.

Thiesen said the magnitude of last week's hailstorms was stunning.

"One doesn't see this kind of devastation very often. I know for us here, we were fortunate to escape, but the emotions are such that we feel just awful for all our grower friends who were affected. It is heartbreaking," he said.

Michael Miya, who farms walnuts, pistachios and field crops such as wheat, corn and onions for seed north of Hanford, said this was the worst hailstorm he has ever witnessed.

"We inspected the damage to our walnuts and it chopped a lot of the young leaflets. It covered the ground in green where the hail went through. We are concerned with the nuts that are already set on the trees," he said. "Some of my neighbors with almonds say they lost about a third of their crop, some less and some more, depending on where they were located. One of my neighbors with cherries said he has probably lost 80 percent of his crop."

Johnson, a severe-weather specialist who provides private weather forecasting for farming operations, utility companies and irrigation districts in the San Joaquin Valley, said it has been at least 20 years since something this severe struck the region.

"I feel really bad for the farmers who have been annihilated, because they work very hard," he said.

April 18
Wisconsin Cherry Growers Expect 50 Percent Loss From Frost Damage

For many, Door County cherries are a Northeast Wisconsin tradition.

But for Kris Robertson, the owner of Robertson Orchards, they're so much more than just that.

"I've been doing this pretty much all my life. It's been here 130 years in the family, so I'm the fourth generation, so it's our livelihood," he says.

Robertson says he's been worrying about his trees, which he expects will produce about half the cherries they normally do this year.

That's because our unusually warm March caused the buds to start developing about a month early. And now with the chilly weather and overnight freezes, some are already damaged.

"Oh yeah, there's a lot of blossoms I open up. The pistils are black, which shows that they should be dead so they're not going to bloom," says Robertson.

UW-Madison agricultural researcher Matt Stasiak says this a common problem for Door County cherry growers this season.

He conducted a sample study a few weeks ago.

"We looked at, as we do every winter, a number of buds and we were seeing a fair amount of damage, the average was about 70- to 75 percent of flower buds were damaged," says Stasiak.

Stasiak says we won't see the full impact of this inclement weather until harvest in June.

In the meantime, cherry growers like Kris Robertson will be getting a lot less sleep.

"Oh, it keeps you up at night worrying, but there's nothing you can do. You just have to hope that the weather changes and you get some crop out of it," says Robertson.

April 16
Cold Strangles Southwest Michigan Grape Crop - Loss Called 'Devasta...

It’s not sour grapes, it’s fact: Southwestern Michigan grape growers are reeling from last week’s freezing temperatures that seem to have wiped out the majority of this season’s grape crop.

Although fruit growers in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties are still assessing the damage, it appears that virtually the entire grape crop grown for Welch's Foods in southwest Michigan has been lost.

Unusually high temperatures at an unusually early time made the plants bud early, making them susceptible to temperatures that dipped into the 20s.

John Jasper, area manager with the National Grape Cooperative Association, which owns Welch's, oversees 250 farmers and 12,000 acres. Of those farmers, he said, more than 90 percent of their primary buds died.

There’s a “glimmer of hope” for some secondary growth to push out a little later but as Jasper pointed out, for most farmers that’s not going to pay the bills or perhaps even make it economical to harvest the few grapes that are left.

“This is the worst situation we’ve had. ... This is devastating for southwest Michigan growers," he said.

According to Jasper, Welch's gets about 17 percent of its grapes from the area, perhaps prompting the company to change recipes for some of its products.

At Bixby Orchards in Berrien Springs, Patricia Bixby said the damage was similar to a 1997 hailstorm that also wiped out the farm’s grape crop. Cherries, she said, “don’t look too bad,’’ adding strawberries will be OK thanks to irrigation that insulated them against the 29-degree cold.

As for apples, she said, she and her husband Paul might lose 75 percent of their crop.

'You just go on,' she said.

The news was better at the Lemon Creek Winery where Jeff Lemon, a business partner and wine maker, said 140 acres of wine grapes offer enough varieties, and in such a wide range of development, that all won’t be lost.

“Some of the buds were still pretty tight. Those came through a little better,’’ he said.

The farm also features peaches, apples and cherries, with apples taking the biggest hit of the three, he said.

At Round Barn Winery in Baroda, wine maker Matt Moersch said he expects some of the younger varieties of grapes will have a 40 to 60 percent loss but older varieties may lose just 10 percent. Retails prices for the winery’s wines shouldn’t be affected this year but could go up in 2013, although not dramatically, he said.

At the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire, Herb Teichman said the few grapes he grows for personal use are “in good shape’’ but some varieties of apple trees didn’t fare as well.

“With some (apples), there was very little (damage) but some others were quite serious,’’ he said.

Tart cherries also had some damage but Teichman said he’ll still have a crop to harvest.

“It’s a reduction but not a wipeout by any means,’’ he said.

Federal government relief could be forthcoming for some grape growers, most likely in the form of low-interest loans. U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, is on record stating grape growers deserve relief.

The apple crop at Kercher's Sunrise Orchards in Goshen was also heavily damaged, the owner said Sunday.

April 14
Minnesota Apple Crop Crippled by Early Warmth Then Freeze

"It's essentially almost a total crop loss this year," said apple farmer Mike Perbix. Perbix owns Sweetland Orchard in Webster. He says he has lost more than 90 percent of his apple crop.

The reason is two-fold.

The warm weather we saw recently back caused many of his apple flowers to bloom. But then this week's freeze left them uncovered and unprotected. "You open it up and all you see is black right in there. And you can tell that's not going to produce anything viable," said Perbix when he opened up a flower bud.

That brings us to the consumer side of this story.

What does it mean for those who like to eat an apple a day? The short answer: it is still too early to tell.

"Our producers, they're really just beginning to understand what happened to them," said Gary Johnson with Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville.

There are two ways consumers may be affected if this wacky weather continues.

First, experts believe there is a good chance the local selection will not be as good. "So what they might find is more apples are coming from out state. You may see more apples come in from Washington for example," he said.

The second way this year's apple crop may bite consumers is at the checkout counter. Prices may go up. However, at Valley Natural Foods, their apple producer has not seen a problem with its crop yet. "They're going to provide apples to their whole sale partners at last year's prices," said Johnson.

David Bedford is a researcher and apple breeder with the University of Minnesota. He says he has never seen the apple crop start so early in his 32 years of breeding. "It's very unusual," he said. "But we're not in disaster mode yet."

He says most crops only need about 15 percent of the flowers to produce a healthy amount of apples. Typically, apple flowers come out of dormancy around May 15; this year it is at least a month early.

"We should know more in three weeks," he said of the extent of the apple crop damage.

Back at the orchard in Webster, Perbix knows where he stands. His apple money is all but gone for this year, thankful his wife is not in the family business. "The best insurance policy is that my wife works off the farm," he said.

April 13
Huge Crop Losses in Portugal Due to Frost and Drought

Recent early morning frosts and the ongoing drought, have led to an almost total loss of production in a number of fruit and vegetable farms across the Algarve.

The Association of Farmers of Faro and Surrounding Councils, which represents the majority of fruit and vegetable producers in the region, has said it is unhappy with government measures announced on Monday, adding that some of its members are on the verge of bankruptcy and despair.

The drought impact is confirmed by an official report dated March 13th, which states a 50% loss of greenhouse vegetables in the Algarve - especially in Faro and Olhão.

The report highlights the losses caused by frosts in the greenhouses to tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans and melon. in addition it says that open air crops such as broad beans, peas and potatoes have been affected. In relation to citrus fruit, the report says that the fall in production is "significant."

"I have lost 80 percent of my tomato plantation, which corresponds to a total loss because no one is going to water and pick the remaining 20 percent," said 44- year-old Paulo Cristina, who has six hectares of greenhouses on the outskirts of Faro.

With 120 tonnes of tomatoes lost, and with the selling price of tomatoes at 45 cents per kilogram, he calculates that he has lost €54,000, corresponding to half a year’s work.

Mr. Cristina awaits EU funds that have been promised by the Ministry of Agriculture, but says he is angry about the lack of available insurance to cover such events.

Similarly, the President of the Regional Agricultural Association, Ana Lopes, laments that insurance companies don’t provide policies adapted to each region, as "each area of the country is unique and has its own agriculture."

April 12
Frosts Damages Up to 90 Percent of Indiana Blueberry Crops

The overnight lows left some blueberry farms with plenty of damage during a season that had been expected to be the best in years. Some farms saw up to 90 percent damage to their crops.

Local farmers said the combination of warm winter months with the recent frosts was too much for certain varieties of blueberry bushes to handle.

“The real situation was a month ago when we had that beautiful weather, when everyone was just so happy,” Pick-N-Patch owner Sam Erwin said. “I’m going this is horrible weather. It brought all the fruit out early. “

The more advanced the blueberries are, the more that is at stake when a freeze warning goes into effect.

“Some of the earlier varieties were hurt a lot more,” Erwin said. “We have some that were almost 100 percent lost.”

April 12
Freezing Temps Causes Widespread Damage to Fruit Crops in North Car...

Cold temperatures Wednesday night caused widespread damage to fruit crops across Henderson County, according to Marvin Owings, county extension director.

"And we still have tonight," Owings said Thursday, referring to a freeze watch in effect through today's predawn hours. It will be a few days before growers can assess the extent of the damage to their crops, he added. "It is almost impossible to determine how bad it is the day after a freeze," Owings said.

Temperatures Wednesday night and Thursday morning fell to between 25 and 28 degrees in some areas. Temperatures 28 degrees and below can impair the fruits' growth cycle, Owings said.

Apple trees bloomed two weeks early as a result of the mild winter, and that left them vulnerable to cold temperatures.

"They are in full bloom, and that is the most critical stage of development," Owings said.

Farmers will check today to see whether Thursday night's temperatures caused more damage. The National Weather Service was forecasting a low around 32 degrees.

Henderson County grower Kenny Barnwell said Thursday that frost had ravaged his 10 acres of peach trees in Edneyville. "They were hurt pretty bad," Barnwell said. "I saw a lot of dead peaches."

His apple crop also was affected.

"A couple varieties (of apples) were severely damaged," Barnwell said.

Peach and strawberry growers in Upstate South Carolina reported that their crops had not been affected by the cool overnight temperatures, and some farms in Henderson County were spared.

"So far (the peach crops) are OK because the peaches' blooms have come and gone on most varieties," Danny McConnell said.

On Thursday, McConnell said it was too soon to tell whether the cold had impacted his apple trees in Dana, but he expected them to be fine.

It takes about 24 hours after a cold night to notice any damage to the apple blossoms, McConnell said.

Local strawberry growers said they were taking precautions to protect the soft fruits.

J.D. Obermiller had a long night Wednesday as temperatures dipped into the upper 20s at his strawberry farm in Horse Shoe.

He started the irrigation system at 2 a.m. to protect his crop, and by 10 a.m. Thursday, the last bit of ice melted off the strawberries.

"The berries look good," Obermiller said. "The blooms look bright and shiny."

McConnell kept his strawberries covered with plastic to protect them from freezing temperatures, but he planned to uncover them today because warmer weather is in the forecast.

High temperatures are expected to be in the 70s and low 80s this weekend, with lows between 40 and 55 degrees.

As he waited out the freeze threat on Thursday, Obermiller was hoping for minimal frost exposure, but he was prepared. "If need be," Obermiller said, "we'll sprinkle them again."

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Comment by Howard on May 4, 2012 at 9:04pm

Up to 80% Apple Crop Losses in Ontario (May 2) -

The news from Ontario’s apple orchards continues to get worse as up to 80 per cent of the apple harvest in some parts of Ontario could fail.

As Global News first reported, the early spring followed by cold temperatures has damaged the vast majority of Ontario’s apple orchards.

Now Brian Gillroy of the Apple Marketing Board says that approximately 80 per cent of Ontario’s 2012 apple crop has been damaged by the early spring.

According to Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, apple harvest is worth approximately $85 to $90 million in Ontario alone.

Ontario is the largest supplier of apples in Canada with just over 8.6 million bushels of Apples produced in 2011. According to officials, one bushel is equal to 40 pounds, which amounts to approximately 300 million pounds of apples produced in 2011.

Much of that 300 million pounds is at risk in 2012, and is a significant worry to Ontario’s Agriculture Minister Ted McMeekin. “I expect there will be some damage,” McMeekin said. “I expect we will be working with the feds through Agricore to try and make the farmers that have been hurt, whole again.”

With an annual crop value of $65 million, apple farmers across Ontario have started the process of applying for crop insurance through Agricore - a federal and provincially funded agency.

“It’s going to be a difficult year for consumers as produce will have to be imported from somewhere else,” said Progressive Conservative MPP Ernie Hardeman.

Comment by Howard on May 4, 2012 at 8:24pm

Fruit Crops Across Michigan "all but wiped out" (May 4) -

In recent days, Steve Tennes has plucked several small apples from his orchard and broken them apart like fortune cookies.

The brown color inside the tiny apples — less than a quarter inch in diameter — is a bad sign. It means the fruit is damaged, and his entire crop is out on a limb.

Tennes, who co-owns a 35-acre apple orchard, Country Mill, near Potterville, and fruit growers statewide are facing ruined crops after warm temperatures in March caused fruit trees to blossom early, only to be damaged by hard freezes in April. Last weekend, temperatures dipped into the 20s.

“Right now, it’s a cliff hanger. We see a lot of damage,” Tennes said. “This is unprecedented. We are doing a lot of praying to see if we are able to pull through it. The question is whether the apple will grow out of it. We’ll know in a couple of weeks.”

Not only fruit growers are affected across Michigan, but mid-Michigan homeowners who have an apple, pear or peach tree in their backyard can expect to see much less fruit on limbs this year. Elsewhere in the state, farmers say tart cherries, sweet cherries and juice grapes, crops uncommon in mid-Michigan, are all but wiped out.

“If they have any fruit on their trees, they’re lucky,” said Mark Longstroth, Michigan State University Extension fruit educator for southwest Michigan. “The pears already are gone. They dropped off the trees two weeks ago.”

While it remains unclear whether mid-Michigan’s apple crops will survive, the culprit behind the conceivable calamity is clear — Mother Nature. She basked mid-Michigan in record-breaking temperatures in the mid-80s in March, tricking fruit trees into blooming early, said Jeff Andresen, a meteorologist at MSU who specializes in weather and agriculture.

Since then, the region has had 12 to 15 freeze events with temperatures 32 degrees or lower, culminating with temperatures reaching 24 degrees early Sunday, Andresen said.

Gary Heilig, horticultural editor for the MSU Extension Service in Ingham County, said it’s the temperatures in the mid-20s that actually freeze the cells inside the fruit that most imperil the fruit crops.

Michigan Frost Damage Worse Than Thought (May 3)

There has been much talk over the last few weeks, of damage done to fruit crops in Michigan by the frost. However, it seems as if it is actually worse than anyone had thought.

It is a state-wide issue that has affected all kinds of tree fruit, apples, cherries, peaches, plums. Some farmers have lost almost all of their crop for the year.

There is a knock-on effect as growers are having to send workers home, as there is nothing for them to do.

Now, experts are advising the growers to focus on maintaining their trees, keeping them in shape ready for next year when, weather permitting they should be in fine form after having, effectively, a year off.

Fruit Specialist Bill Shane with the Michigan State University Extension walked through rows of peach and cherries tress on Tuesday.

Comment by Howard on May 1, 2012 at 5:59am

Freezing Temps Devastate Michigan Orchards (April 30)

The cold weather, starting Thursday, killed most of the crop of apples, peaches, plums, raspberries, nectarines and blueberries at Crane’s U-Pick near Fennville.

“We’re pretty much well wiped completely out in all fruit areas,” Crane said. “Overall, we’re looking at a total loss this year.”

But it’s not just them. Orchards all across Michigan are experiencing the same thing, she said.

“Hopefully, you’ve kept up with your finances and you’re not over-extended, because we’re now looking at 12 to 14 months without any income,” she said.

Mark Seetin, director of regulatory and industry affairs for the U.S. Apple Association, said most of the major apple production areas in New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Michigan had been hit by cold weather, with varying degrees of damage.

“Last week, New York got several inches of snow,” he said. “I think there’s widespread concern among growers.”

Locally, the weekend’s cold weather was devastating not because it was rare for the time of the year, but because unseasonably warm weather in March prompted plants to start growing early, said Carlos Garcia, small fruit educator for the Michigan State University’s Extension office. The cold weather damaged crops because temperatures dipped down into the 30s several hours each night for several days running.

Garcia was out in the middle of a field of blueberry bushes Monday morning, trying to get a read on the extent of the damage.

“It’s hard to estimate how much of the crop will be lost,” he said.

Comment by Howard on April 29, 2012 at 9:25pm

New York Fruit Growers Suffer 100% Losses (April 28) -


Some farmers in Wayne County say they've lost 100 percent of certain fruit crops because of recent overnight freezes.

"I've never seen a spring like this in all the years," says Earl Dittberner who owns a 60 acre farm in the town of Ontario.

The 79-year-old was out surveying his peach trees on Saturday when he discovered almost all of the buds had fallen off his trees.

"You don't see any blossoms on the trees anymore and without the blossoms there are no peaches," he explained.

For weeks, farmers have been fearing that this is what might happen if the overnight temperatures continued to dip into the low 20's.

The blossoms that have survived are now dealing with another problem, no pollination. Bees that usually take care of that job won't come out of their hives unless the temperature is around 60 degrees.

"They're not venturing out into the orchard unfortunately, it's too cold for everything," says Martin Schutt who owns a cider mill and fruit farm in Wayne County.

"We're opening up the flowers and seeing that the pistel is dead meaning it was killed during the severe frost," he added.

Comment by Howard on April 29, 2012 at 9:19pm

Over 1000 Acres of Crops Destroyed By Hail in India (April 28) -

Farmers in West Bengal's Siliguri District have reportedly incurred heavy crop-related losses in wake of a sudden hailstorm on Saturday.

Vegetables like cauliflowers, cabbages, lady fingers and cucumber were found lying in water after the natural calamity that lasted for over 30 minutes.

Biswanath Barui, a villager, said he was left with nothing to sell and survive on.

"There was huge hailstorm in the area and it rained heavily. Our crops like cauliflower, cucumber, lady's finger and cabbage were damaged. We were not able to save our crops and we have nothing to sell and survive on," said Barui.

Over 1000 acres of farmland was destroyed by the hailstorm.

Another villager, Bidhan Bagchi, said he was left with no money to run his household and repay his loans.

Farmers have appealed to the government to assess the damage and compensate them for their unexpected losses.

Comment by Howard on April 29, 2012 at 9:16pm

Hail Damage to California Fruit Crops $20.4M -

The first crop loss estimate from freakishly powerful hail storms a few weeks ago is $20.4 million, possibly marking the worst damage ever recorded in Kings County, according to Tim Niswander, Kings County agricultural commissioner.

“We’ve had hail damage before, but not quite like this,” Niswander said. “Some have referred to this as a 100-year storm event.”

Niswander’s office reported nine crops affected between April 11 and April 13, mostly in a miles-long swath stretching northeast from Hanford to Kingsburg and beyond.

Along with soft stone fruit that is particularly vulnerable to hail, the destruction extended to almonds, kiwis and cotton.

An estimated $1.68 million in damage was done to cotton still in the ground.

The numbers were included as part of an application sent Thursday requesting that the U.S. Agriculture Department declare Kings County a disaster area. The declaration would make growers eligible for federal disaster relief assistance.

“You just walk through the orchards, you can see the damage that was done,” said Richard Fagundes, the county supervisor whose District 5 took the brunt of the storm. “These guys are not accustomed to having these storms this late.”

The supercell thunderstorm reportedly spawned a funnel cloud near Lemoore that never touched down. Instead of the usual pea-sized balls, it dumped hail stones as big as quarters, Niswander said.

With crop loss estimates still coming in, Niswander said he anticipates the number could rise higher than $20.4 million.

“It was pretty major,” he said. “We may do an update in a week or so.”

Comment by Corey Young on April 24, 2012 at 2:38am

Allison makes a good point, prices in the supermarkets will reflect this years issues with the crop devastation currently starting. The real tell tale sign will be what we see in the months of June-August. To my knowledge mostNorth American fruits and veggies hit the local markets then. The combination of a price shock and a depleted section of fresh food at the grocers will be a big sign. Keep your eyes open! Great work Howard.

Comment by Kris H on April 23, 2012 at 1:34am

Hi Leslie. The Zetas explained the plight of the honeybee back in 2007.


Comment by Howard on April 22, 2012 at 1:01am

Pennsylvania Fruit Crops Suffer Huge Losses To Weather

At Westgate Farms, owner Dave Wagner said he has never experienced a spring like this. He called the conditions "extreme." He said he has lost perhaps 75-80% of his cherry crop, and perhaps up to two-thirds of his 32 acres of grapes have been damaged.

Nearby, at Burch Farms, the apple blossoms are out, making the orcahrd look normal. But up to 50% of the farm's key cash crop was damaged by the series of cold snaps.

Farmers say consumers will pay more. And they will have a hard time turning a profit.

Farmer Tim Burch said, "It has a dramatic negative on it. Production is everything. If we don't have the crops to market, it definitely affects our bottom line."

Farmer Dave Wagner said, "It's below the bottom line. My wife works off the farm to help her husband pay the bills. I will leave it at that."


Comment by Howard on April 21, 2012 at 4:36am

Bloomberg on April Crop Losses -

"About 90 percent of juice-grape crops were damaged in Michigan, the third-largest U.S. grower, and as much as 50 percent were hurt in New York, the No. 2 producer, and in Pennsylvania and Ohio, said Rich Erdle, the director of member relations for the National Grape Cooperative Inc., the owners of Welch’s juices and jellies. Cold weather destroyed the primary buds on plants, and secondary buds will produce 35 percent of normal output, Erdle said.

"An April freeze damaged grape crops from Michigan to New York that last year supplied about two- thirds of the U.S. fruit used to make non-alcoholic grape juice, government and industry officials said.

"Apples, grapes and cherries were the hardest hit when temperatures fell below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celsius) from April 6 to April 14 across the Midwest, especially in Michigan, said Dennis Todey, South Dakota’s climatologist, who lead a media briefing by telephone yesterday for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The cold spell followed unusually warm weather in March that led to an early start to growing season."

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