Central New York may still enjoy a good apple crop this fall. That's despite freezing temperatures decimating prematurely blooming buds on trees this week. Our Kat De Maria visited Beak and Skiff Apple Farms Tuesday where the orchard manager says he lost nearly half of his buds overnight.
LAFAYETTE, N.Y.--At Beak and Skiff Apple Farms in LaFayette, it's May. Or at least the trees think it's May.
Record warm weather, especially in the valley south of Syracuse, has the buds blooming ahead of schedule. But that leaves them more vulnerable to the cold, like Monday night's 18 degree low.
"The least temperature they can take it down to is 25. So we had to use our smudge pots and provide a little bit of heat. We ran out wind machines later in the night when the breeze died down," said orchard manager Mark Fleckenstein.
By Tuesday afternoon, Fleckenstein was about the only person left at Beak and Skiff still checking the buds for damage.
"There are five flowers in there. And the ones that are frozen will be kind of brown," Fleckenstein said.
His search turned up a lot of brown.
"We probably have 40 percent bud damage," Fleckenstein said.
Apple trees have more than enough buds. And it only takes ten percent of these to have a crop. That means there'll be plenty of apples this summer and fall, that is, unless something else goes wrong.
"We still have the rest of March, all of April and all of May," Fleckenstein said.
Until the apples blossom, the concern is freezing. After that, which the orchard manager expects will be a record early mid-April, is frost. But he says barring that, there should be a fairly normal harvest.
"If we survive all this, apples will just be a little bit early," Fleckenstein said.
And ready to pick from the trees come September.