The early warm weather in March, followed by sudden flash freezes, has caused devastating losses to tender fruit and apple growers in a large part of southern Ontario.

Phil Tregunno of the Ontario Tender Fruit Producers Marketing Board in Niagara says about 30 per cent of peaches and nectarines have been affected, with damage totalling about $24 million to those two crops alone.

Growers won’t know the impact on the grape crop until early June.

Trevor Herrle-Braun with Herrle’s Country Farm Market in St. Agatha tells 570News they’ve been lucky so far, because they planted “safer” crops like peas and spinach which weren’t too affected by the colder temps.
He says they left straw covering their strawberries despite the record temperatures in March and that’s paying dividends now.

Herrle-Braun says because apple blossoms have been affected, consumers could possibly be paying a premium price for fresh fruit and vegetables later this year if crops don’t rebound.

Steve Smith says there are no blossoms on his apple trees in Port Elgin, about 40 kilometres southwest of Owen Sound, which means there will be no apples.

Agriculture specialist John Cline at the University of Guelph says the apple industry alone in Ontario is worth up to $400 million. Roughly 2,800 people are employed in the province’s apple orchards, including 2,300 foreign workers hired during the growing season.