From Ohio, to Vermont, to New York and beyond, across a broad swath of the Northeastern United States, a late-spring freeze delivering record setting cold temperatures and frost has devastated the region’s vineyards and orchards.
Fox News 8 in Cleveland reported that unseasonably cold temperatures, some of them record setting, are contributing to mounting losses for northern Ohio’s vineyards.
“‘Frost’ is a word no farmer wants to hear in the month of May, but that’s exactly what many farmers across Northeast Ohio found when they woke up,” wrote Fox News 8.
“Frost this late in the season is devastating,” co-owner Tracy Hundley, of Hundley Cellars in Geneva, Ohio told Fox News 8. “As you can see, the buds are on the vines. When I went to check them at 6:20 this morning, they were frozen solid. So, there’s definitely going to be some loss.”
Late season frost and cold also damaged grapes production in the Finger-Lakes region of upstate New York, according to YourErie.com.
“In early April, weather proved to be great by all normal standards,” wrote YourErie.com “But last week, there was a drop in temperature and a warning for grape growers locally as well as for our neighbors in New York and Ohio. A potential frost that could wipe out crops.”
“[U]p in the Finger Lakes, … some New York growers are seeing anywhere from a 10 percent loss to 100 percent of grape crops being wiped out, but it’s site specific and unique per location,” Mario Mazza, vice president and general manager of Mazza Vineyards, told YourErie.com.
The same short-term freeze harmed orchards and vineyards in Vermont as well, reported the Burlington Free Press.
“It was just one night when the temperatures across Vermont lingered in the 20s for several hours, but the flash freeze has resulted in devastating and unprecedented impacts on the state’s orchards and vineyards,” said the Free Press, continuing, “[a] widespread frost across Vermont last week ‘is suspected to have severely damaged thousands of acres of crops in Vermont and across the region,’ states a Vermont Agency of Agriculture news release from Tuesday.”
Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture, Anson Tebbets issued a statement concerning the harmful impact of the flash freeze:
The losses caused by the late Spring frost is heartbreaking for those who produce fruits, produce, berries, and wine. The hard freeze will mean significant losses for our growers and those who make their living off fruits and vegetables. The extent of the damage may not be known for several weeks but early indications are discouraging.
Many of the low temperatures in the region weren’t just unusual for the season, they were record setting, with Electroverse reporting, “Montpelier logged a record May low of 25℉, while Burlington tied its historic low of 28℉.”
Some Vermont vineyard owners are reporting that they fear losing 50 of their grape crops, while some orchard owners there say they could experience a 100 percent loss of their apple crops.
Commenting on the broad coverage and severity of the freeze, Terence Bradshaw, associate professor at the University of Vermont Extension Fruit Program, was quoted saying, “In my 25 years of working with fruit crops in Vermont, I have never seen frost or freeze damage this extensive.”
“The widespread nature of this event is unprecedented,” Bradshaw said.