Nova Scotia

June frost forces Windsor apple business to improvise

An apple U-pick owner in Windsor, N.S., was left without a crop or an income after the early June frost this year, but is bringing in apples to keep his business open this fall.

A U-pick owner is bringing in apples from another county to stay in business

Apple farmer and U-pick owner Phil Daniels says many farmers in Hants County lost their crops because of the late frost in June. (Mairin Prentiss/CBC)

A U-pick apple business in Windsor, N.S., was left without a crop or an income after the early June frost this year, but is bringing in apples to remain open this fall.

Phil Daniels owns one of five apple farms in the Windsor area that lost more than 80 per cent of their crop, he said.

He lost nearly all his apples, pears and plums after the temperature plummeted to -4 C on June 4.

"You can't control the weather," he said. "You can't do anything about it. You push. You keep on pushing. You pray until something happens. You just keep on keeping on and trust the good Lord will see you through."

Last week, Mason Apples in Windsor announced the frost has shut down its U-pick operation this year.

But despite the damage, Daniels is trying to stay open by supplementing the few apples left in his fields with apples he purchased from Kings County.

Hunting for lone apples

His customers are enjoying the challenge of hunting through the orchard to find the remaining resilient apples.

"They have the fun of going out there and looking for an apple," said Daniels. "It's actually more of an adventure ... than it would be normally to stand in one spot and fill your bag."

"It makes it more rewarding when you find one."

Matthew Lamont and Renée Parsons were helping their children up a ladder on Saturday to find apples.

"Last year, this place was full of apples," said Lamont. "Every tree had apples on it. This year — one apple on every tree. It's pretty slim pickings."

Matthew Lamont, Renée Parsons and their children Breea and Chase are trying to find the few apples on Daniels U-pick that weren't killed by frost. (Mairin Prentiss/CBC)

"Anytime we've been here before the apples generally were a little bit bigger than this." said Kevin Wagner, who brings his daughter Caitlyn to the U-pick every year. 

"We're lucky to get what we've got I guess."

Kevin and Caitlyn Wagner took their annual trip to Daniels U-pick in his father's Dodge Monaco. (Mairin Prentiss/CBC)

Daniels can't get crop insurance because his farm is a U-pick, he said. Insurers need proof of a farm's annual yield, which he can't provide.

Earning an income this year will be a struggle, he said.  

"You don't make as much, you just learn to live on less."

Last year, Daniels lost half his crop to a sawfly infection. In 1998, he lost his whole crop to a frost during apple blossom season.

"That's the way it is with farming, you never know what's going to hit you."  

"I survived in '98 ... I will survive again."

Breea Lamont reaps the rewards of this year's challenging harvest. (Mairin Prentiss/CBC)

Oulton's farm, Davison's farm and Sexton's apple operations in the Windsor area also suffered significant frost damage, said Daniels.

This year, Daniels' cousin opened Bent Ridge Winery on his orchard. About 70 per cent of their grapes were lost to frost, said co-owner Steven Dodge.

The late frost also caused significant losses for wild blueberry farmers and Christmas tree farmers.

Read more articles at CBC Nova Scotia