Ohio fruit farmers look forward to warm weather

PATASKALA, Ohio (WCMH)—Fruit growers across Ohio are paying close attention to the weather forecast of a prolonged warming trend, after nearly two weeks of much-below-normal temperatures and bouts of snow and frost.

Mitch Lynd, owner of Lynd Fruit Farm in Pataskala, in rural Licking County, is cautiously optimistic about the apple crop.

“After last night’s freeze, the most tender apple we have here—Fuji—still has four out of five alive.”

Early blossoms on plums and some peach varieties quickly turned brown in the harsh cold and are mostly lost for the season, although Lynd says that over all the peach crop should fare well in Ohio, and capable of withstanding a little pruning. Even better news is that buds have not fully opened up, which means the tender vegetation is still protected for now.

Of course, that could change if there is a hard freeze later this month or in early May, keeping owners of orchards on pins and needles until Mother’s Day. Any further losses could result in an increase in prices of some popular fruits at farm markets later in the season.

Bill Dodd, president of the Fruit Grower’s Marketing Association in Amherst, said, “The peach crop has been damaged and it’s going to depend on where you’re at in the state. Some places are going to be worse off than others. We’re still hopeful that there will be peaches, it’s just too early to tell how large a crop there will be. Apples, for the most part, look like they’re going to be OK. There will be pockets of damage—small areas—but the potential is still positive for a good crop.”

Ohio produces about 3 million bushels of apples annually, which makes up 1.5 percent of the nation’s apple crop that largely dictates prices we pay at the grocery store.

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