‘It’s a very difficult time’: Farmers concerned about impact of cold on crops

News source from CTV News

If the first day of June felt like August, the last couple of days have felt more like March.

Record-low temperatures overnight produced frost Monday morning, which could be devastating for fragile plants in farmers’ fields.

Josh Oulton, of Taproot Farms in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, is worried about his apple trees.

The bloom is still fresh and very sensitive to cold, and with each frost, more of the buds die off.

“If their blooms do get injured, there just will not be a crop,” he explains.

Oulton’s farm covers about 300 acres.

For some of his crops, he uses wind covers or mini greenhouses for things like herbs, but many of his fields aren’t so lucky.

“Everything that’s a tender crop that loves the heat like tomatoes, potatoes, beans, corn, apples, zucchini, cucumbers, all those things are summertime crops, they’re exposed,” Oulton says. “So then it’s like, oh my goodness, what’s going to happen here?”

Farmers in the Annapolis Valley saw a few hours of -3 Celsius Monday morning.

Some wineries in Nova Scotia even resorted to fires to keep the chill off their grapes.

Record-low temperatures were recorded across the Maritimes, which includes farming communities in eastern parts of New Brunswick, where they experienced some of the lower temperatures in the region.

People in parts of Newfoundland woke up to snow Monday morning.

“It’s a very difficult time,” adds Nova Scotia farmer Peter Elderkin. “It’s a bad time for frost.”

Elderkin has several acres of berries, and usually opens his u-pick in mid-June.

He’s dealt with frost warnings since early May, and he’s not sure when the strawberries will be ready.

“A blossom is nice and white petals with a yellow centre, but when you have a black centre, that means you’ve been frosted,” he explains, “and I’ve seen them for weeks now.”

Farmers say the full extent of the damage won’t be clear for a few more weeks.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Emily Baron Cadloff.





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