Under The Weather

April’s Crazy-Cold Weather Is Ruining Fruit Crops

These apples are goners.
These apples are goners. Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

While warm weather continues to destroy all of Earth’s seafood, April’s weird cold spell could substantially wreck the Northeast’s fruit supplies. AccuWeather reports: “The combination of a very mild winter, above-average temperatures during March, and the most recent bout of below-freezing temperatures [has] caused damage to some fruit crops.” The region’s nutso hot spurt was actually worse for fruit trees than if the temperatures had stayed within normal ranges, because it tricked them into blossoming three to four weeks early, and just in time to get waylaid by this latest brutal polar-vortex blast.

On poor trees that did blossom prematurely, the buds didn’t respond well (unsurprisingly) when their systems got shocked by snow and freezing temps. A farmer in the middle of Pennsylvania whose orchards reportedly “fared better” than others out south and east tells AccuWeather his plums and peaches were still hit pretty hard, with the damage varying “from orchard to orchard and from tree to tree.” Another farmer in the area says that they expect to lose “90 to 100 percent” of their peaches and plums, and that their apples are unlikely to emerge unscathed, either. Per Penn State’s calculations, 90 percent of apples, cherries, and peaches in bloom will die if exposed to 25-degree weather for 30 minutes. This week’s lows are at least that bad for pretty much the entire Northeast.

February’s subzero temperatures upstate, meanwhile, also did significant damage to grapes growing in the Finger Lakes region. Fortunately, buds haven’t broken on many varieties yet, and the owner of one vineyard says optimistically, “As long as temperatures stay where they are projected, we should be okay.” If there’s any accurate prediction relating to weather anymore, it’s that thinking temperatures will stay where “projected” is the perfect way to be 100 percent let down.


April’s Cold Weather Is Ruining Fruit Crops