PEI

Dorian takes a bite out of P.E.I. apples

Apple Growers on P.E.I. are busy assessing the damage to fruit and trees caused by post-tropical storm Dorian, just as picking season gets underway. 

'Nature has dealt us a bit of a blow this year'

Double Hill Cidery says many wild apples, like the ones here, were too damaged to use in production. (Submitted by Sebastian Manago )

Apple growers on P.E.I. are busy assessing the damage to fruit and trees caused by post-tropical storm Dorian, just as picking season gets underway. 

Growers say they have been checking in on each other and there has been mixed reaction, some losing hardly any crop or trees — others losing a lot. 

"We've probably lost about 200 trees out of 10,000," said Barry Balsom of Arlington Orchards near Tyne Valley, P.E.I. 

"We had a trellis system that the poles collapsed in, so that's quite a mess and we'll have to fix that up."

Balsom said they also had a lot of Honeycrisp apples that fell to the ground, that aren't ripe enough to be sold.

"It's so far away from those being harvested. Like you don't harvest Honeycrisp until the 1st of October ... they just haven't developed enough."

Mother Nature rules 

Balsom said they put measures in place to try to prevent damage, such as tree lines, to act as a buffer against the wind — but sometimes that's not enough. 

We have to get inventive.— Sebastian Manago, Double Hill Cidery

"Mother Nature is Mother Nature and when you have ... just about a Category 2 hurricane land in Nova Scotia and work its way up with a torrential rain, not a whole lot you're going to do about stuff," he said. 

"You're just going to have to grin and bear it and fix it when it's gone."

He said despite the storm, picking will begin on Thursday.

Cidery hit hard 

Double Hill Cidery in Caledonia was hit hard — they estimate they've lost at least half of their wild apples, but they didn't lose any trees.

"We have to deal with the realities of nature here, and nature has dealt us a bit of a blow this year," said owner Sebastian Manago.

He said they won't know how much cider they'll be able to produce this year until they finish harvesting wild apples from around the Island, but a planned expansion of their processing facility may be off for now. 

"We can still fulfil our orders for this year," Manago said. "We still have the Nomad 2018 in stock but for '19 we're going to have to manage expectations. I think I hope we'll get the same volume as this year, but I don't know if we can double our production, which we were hoping to do."

Manago said it was looking to be an excellent year for apples, which makes the loss harder — but they are trying to stay positive.

"We have to get inventive," he said. "So we may have to mix in some of the wild apples with the orchard apples and create a new product. Maybe we will name it Dorian."

More P.E.I. news 

About the Author

Natalia Goodwin

Video Journalist

Natalia is a multi-platform journalist in Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.

with files from Mitch Corimer

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