Cold April mornings have caused damage to Wisconsin apple orchards

By: Matt Hoffman Email
By: Matt Hoffman Email

Area apple growers are hoping with the end of April will also be the end of the cold and frosty mornings. Unfortunately, the damage may already be done. This year is shaping up to be one of the worst apple harvests right from the start.

"This is the worst one that I’ve had in my 17 years here." That's saying a lot for Thomas Craig Schultz, owner of Bushel and a Peck in Chippewa Falls.

"Six or eight years ago that froze maybe 30% of the fruit on the bottoms but nothing like this." Since earlier this month when we talked to him we've seen a dozen nights where we've been at or below freezing but it all began with one peculiar frost.

"We had mixing involved and that took away some of our advantage for our elevation because it mixed the air and it was similar temperature of the air for here and down in the valley," explains Schultz. He says some varieties are better off than others when figuring in his loss this year.

"The loss is also determined by the elevation of the tree on the hillside so we expect to have somewhere between a 30 and 50 percent crop."

Apple losses aren’t just refined to here at Bushel and a Peck but throughout Western Wisconsin and the Midwest. April was a tough month for apple growers with many frost and freezes throughout the month of April.

The Wisconsin apple growers association says the damage to orchards across the state varies and they won’t have an accurate picture of the true loss until early to mid June.

"Insurance doesn't kick in until we have an 80% loss, so we'll have to bear it entirely, and we'll just have to see what we have for a crop before we determine pricing" Schultz says he still expects to have enough apples in a number of varieties for stores.

"We will try and hold price as best we can, but it's a significant loss there's no doubt about that."

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