Martin's Family Fruit Farm says apple harvest halved by May frost

A killing frost in late May has put a significant dent in local apple yields, according to Ken Martin, the operations manager at Martin's Family Fruit Farm in Waterloo.
While yields are down 50 per cent, Ken Martin of Waterloo's Martin's Family Fruit Farm says the level of crop damage is nowhere near 2012 levels when much of the province's apples were wiped out by a sudden cold snap. (4028mdk09/Wikimedia Commons)

A killing frost in late May has put a significant dent in local apple yields, according to Ken Martin, the operations manager at Martin's Family Fruit Farm in Waterloo, who says this fall's harvest will be half what is produced in a normal year.

The drop in temperatures happened in late May and while communities experienced record-breaking cold, fruit producers across much of the province scrambled to save their then still-nascent harvest. 

Ontario Apple Growers, the marketing board that represents the province's apple farmers, said in an email to CBC News that damage was most severe in the western half of the province, where some producers in Waterloo Region and on the north shore of Lake Erie lost as much as 50 per cent of their crop. 

In the eastern part of the province, damage was less severe, but farmers are still worried they may have lost up to 20 per cent of their yields in some cases. 

Even though losses are bad, the year's harvest isn't a complete wash, according to Ken Martin. 

"It's not as widespread this year as it was in 2012," Martin, the operations manager at Martin's Family Fruit Farm, said on Monday. "Some of our growers in the regions they are, they weren't hit as hard as we were. So it will be easier to obtain fruit this year than it was in 2012." 

In 2012, Ontario apple farmers had a disastrous year after an early spring was followed by a sharp drop in temperatures where the frost nearly wiped out the province's apple crop, giving some farmers yields as low as 10 per cent. 

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