Fruit farmers across the Northeast, who are bracing for a string of freezing weather expected next week, are finding preparations made more difficult by a mild winter and early sprouting crops.
Late April freezes are hardly uncommon across the Northeast. In New England states like Maine, on average the third coolest state in the United States, winters tend to be harsh followed by late spring thaws and hot, humid summers.
This week, however, farmers across the Northeast were readying orchard heaters, irrigation systems, and frost warnings, preparing for several rough nights. The cause for alarm is due to a mild winter and early blooming in fruit farms across the region. Fruit farmers are reporting that some plants and trees have begun sprouting up to three weeks early, meaning that a late April freeze could damage delicate buds and ruin entire crops.
Meteorologists in Vermont were already predicting low temperatures and a high potential kill rate, one that could seriously affect this season’s crops. Meteorologists in other parts of the region are echoing these gloomy forecasts and are warning farmers to take preventative action to protect delicate crops.
However, anti-frost measures can be extremely expensive. One Connecticut farmer estimated that his anti-frost equipment costs $1,000 an hour to run. These costs are hardly a rare occurrence these days with farmers across the Northeast facing repeated frost threats that force them to constantly rely on expensive machinery.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer