Windsor

Cold weather prediction puts apple growers on alert

Apple growers in parts of southwestern Ontario could see temperatures at or very close to the freezing mark on the weekend.

'The danger is quite great' if weekend weather predictions hold true

Temperatures could get close to the freezing mark in southwestern Ontario on Saturday and that could be a problem for apple growers. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

Zero is not a number you want to see on a thermometer when you are an apple farmer.

But apple growers in parts of southwestern Ontario could see temperatures at or very close to the freezing mark on the weekend.

"Apple growers know full well that there is a huge risk right now," said Leslie Huffman Balsillie of the well-known Fruit Wagon in Harrow, Ont., when speaking with CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive on Wednesday.

Forecasts from Environment Canada suggest the mercury could hit a low of 2 C in Windsor, Ont., on Saturday night.

Even colder predictions

Further up Highway 401, however, the projected low will be 0 C in areas that include Woodstock, Tillsonburg and London, Ont.

The lower number is a definite problem.

"The danger is quite great if it gets down to zero," said Huffman Balsillie. "If it stays at two, we're fine."

She said some farmers have begun to employ frost fans in their orchards in recent years, in a bid to protect their future produce.

"Those fans...will stir up the air and they will be able to mix that heat down into the area where the blossoms are and hopefully raise it enough degrees to save those blossoms," Huffman Balsillie said.

As farmers know well, though, forecasts can change, so they're hoping temperatures will actually be higher.

Huffman Balsillie said farmers simply have to deal with whatever Mother Nature hands them.

"It's part of the business, it's a part you have to be able to live with. And it can hurt you a lot, or it can help you a lot," she said. "So you have to then focus on what you can control and go with that. If you can't live with that, you won't be a very good farmer."

With files from the CBC's Tony Doucette and CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive

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