Apple growers attempt to save crop
With overnight temperatures near the freezing mark, some apple growers have been up all night taking precautions to save their crop. It's a sight to see at Beak and Skiff in LaFayette, where large fans and smudge pots are being used to warm the air. Our Brad Vivacqua reports.
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ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- In Beak and Skiff's lower valley, the temperature typically gets a few degrees cooler compared to higher elevated areas as the cold air settles in the valley overnight.
Twelve fans spread throughout the orchard circulated warm air produced by a few hundred smudge pots. This was done to protect the apple trees, which started to bud about four weeks early when temperatures hit around 80 degrees.
Last week, a widespread freeze caused this orchard to lose about 40 percent of those buds. Dozens of workers started burning hay and heating oil just after midnight. It's an ongoing overnight battle to save the fruit crop that becomes ever so popular in the fall.
"The unknown is what the quality of the fruit is going to be that's remaining. Is it going to be fine? Is it going to have a blemish on it? And then, you know we're still four weeks early so we still have really up until Memorial Day Weekend to worry about freezing and frost so we're not out of the woods yet," said Pete Fleckenstein, Beak and Skiff Assistant Manager.
Fleckenstein said the last time this farm lost all of its fruit was 66 years ago in 1946. He said unless there is a catastrophic event that occurs, Beak and Skiff will have apples this fall even with more cold mornings.