Over the last few weeks, New York Apple growers have cursed the cold weather, but are now praising the cooler days and nights. We experienced some freezing temperatures the last week in March across the state. Lows of 19 were reported, and a number of 23-26 degree lows were recorded. At the time we feared the worst, and predictions of drastic crop reduction were coming from all growing areas.
But, we are relieved to say, at least at this point in time, we dodged the freezing bullet! Damaged buds can be found, but not to the extent that we had expected. It is now believed that the buds were not quite as vulnerable as we had thought, and even at the low temperatures, most survived. Common talk across the state is that the potential is still there for a good, sound crop. After a few sleepless nights, with growers up most of the night monitoring temperatures and taking frost prevention steps, the cold nights have been replaced by normal seasonal April cool temperatures in 30s and low 40s. This is a welcome relief, since it had now slowed the tree growth down to normal for this time of the year.
Although we are still early, for the last two weeks we have not seen much growth and movement at the bud stage. The cool days have also slowed down the accumulation of degree hours, which is pushing the bloom dates later. For the cooler Lake area, which is the heart of Apple Country, bloom is expected around April 20-26th. Normal bloom would be May 16-23. The continued concern for both lakeshore and inland sites is whether another killing frost or freeze will pop up sometime over the next several weeks. Frosts on the average have been noted as late as May 15th along the shoreline and May 30th inland. Typically, we see an average of four or five freeze events in April and May in western New York. So the question on everyone’s mind, is, “What the heck is typical?”
Today, it is sunny, clear, and breezy with highs in the upper 50s and expected low tonight is 39 degrees. We will take it!