United States and Canada

North America: Hard freeze affects fruit and vegetable crops

Three nights of frost or freezing temperatures have affected Michigan’s fruit crops. Experts say as a whole, Michigan’s fruit crop may have fared okay in the cold snap.

Temperatures Saturday morning, May 9, dropped to the low-to-mid 20s in the southwest quarter of Lower Michigan, a prolific fruit growing area. At the same time, northwest Lower’s fruit areas weren’t quite as cold with morning low temperatures in the upper 20s.

Two conditions have led to various amounts of damage to Michigan’s fruit crop. But with combinations of temperatures and amounts of damage varying across the state, fruit experts think Michigan will still have an acceptable crop.

Mlive.com quotes Mark Longstroth, small fruit educator at MSU Extension in southwest Lower Michigan, who said that the damage to fruit trees varies a lot from region to region. Northwest Lower Michigan fared a little better than southwest Lower Michigan because the trees weren’t as advanced in the north, and less vulnerable to the cold. Also the temperatures in northwest Lower Michigan were a few degrees warmer than southwest Lower.

However,  the Michigan Field Office of USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service claims the late freeze might deliver ‘a gut punch’ to Michigan’s fruit crops.

Farmers-exchange.net reports that there were 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork as cooler temperatures prevailed across most areas of the state, but drier conditions allowed for some planting and other fieldwork to continue.

A cold week was punctuated by freezing temperatures over the weekend. Growers that had frost protection equipment available used it extensively all weekend. Fruit damage is unknown at this time and will become more evident in coming weeks.

Cold snap damaging to Indian crops
With a four-day stretch of sub-freezing sunrise temperatures and readings below 40 degrees on 11 of the 14 days so far this month, the unfavorable conditions for sowing and growing have confounded Indiana planters from backyard growers to commercial farmers.

According to indianagazette.com, the low temperature of 25 early last Saturday broke a record for Indiana County.

It’s a cold stretch that defies memories to recall one so nasty at this stage of the growing season. And it’s been marked by its persistence: More than just flirting once with the critical 32-degree mark, the mercury has left more than a week of May readings more characteristic of March.

Ontario asparagus farmers have seen a tough start to the year
Rebecca Compton runs Dalton White Farms in Norfolk County, where late season frost has hampered the start of an asparagus harvest season that was, at one point, expected to begin at the start of the month.

"Most of our crowns would have had three spears above ground when I was looking at it on Friday. And if we would have had nice weather, we would have been into a real flush, a heavy production, if these freezing temperatures had not occurred," she told cbc.ca.

Instead, a number of "extremely unusual" late season frost events over the past few nights have destroyed whatever asparagus spears had broken the ground's surface.

"There's very little we can do to protect asparagus from frost. Some crops you can cover, some crops you can irrigate to prevent them from freezing, but asparagus doesn't lend itself to any of those types of measures," she said. "It's very devastating to lose that level of pound, particularly in a year when we're already struggling so much."

"We were looking at harvesting about half our crop to begin with, and now this will just add to more pounds lost, which [leads to] higher expenses. It's taking away your opportunity for any profit at this point," Compton said. "Every vegetable producer is experiencing the same challenges."

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