Fruit growers in Essex county forecast slim pickings in local orchards this year.

The harsh winter took a toll on peaches, cherries and grapes, and that affects farmers like Doug Balsillie, who has grown fruit in Harrow for 31 years.

"There will be virtually be no peaches in Essex or Kent counties this year," he said. "Sweet cherries also took a slight hit."

The long winter not only destroyed the peach crops, but may have killed some trees, as well.

"We're losing one crop out of the seven tree fruit crops we grow," said Balsille. "This is not a high margin business ... so when you take 10 per cent out of your income for the year, that comes right out of the bottom line. Every time we lose something, we suffer."

Whether the cold winter affects fruit farmers across the province is uncertain, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

In a statement, a spokesperson noted, "Ontario's farmers deal with the effects of weather every day. At this point in the season, it's too early to determine how the weather will impact Ontario's crops."

Tom Meleg, a farmer who grows peaches and cherries in Kingsville, said he may have to import fruit from the Niagara region to sell this year.

He said crop insurance will help offset his losses.

Grape crops have also been devastated this year, but wineries have stock left from last year.

Apples, however, are hardier and have not been affected, according to farmers.