Many Maritime apple growers looking to prune their trees before they blossom this spring have been forced to delay their efforts because of this year’s harsh winter.
Robert Bourgeois owns 80 acres of apple trees in Memramcook, N.B. Normally he'd have foreign workers on staff to help prune, but hiring now would put him out on a financial limb.
"When it's windy, it's cold and you're on snow it gets to be more expensive to prune, too,” he said. “There's nothing better than being on the ground and a little bit warmer so guys are a little faster."
It’s hard to tell what this year’s crop will be like, but the next month will be busy as the snow melts.
“The ideal thing is that you get around to every tree every year and prune it,” said Larry Lutz, a grower from Rockland, N.S. “The later you start in the spring, the less time you have.”
Other growers are worried about mice. Mike Beamish, a grower in Warren Grove, P.E.I., says the rodents remain in the orchards and live under the snow.
"They love the bark, the taste of the bark of an apple tree or other fruit trees as well," he said. "They'll eat all the bark around the tree and that will kill the tree, of course."