June overnight freeze results in grape ‘write-off’ in Sheffield Mills, Berwick potato plants rebounding
With this year’s grape crop essentially written off, some local farmers are turning their attention to next year.
Long- time farmer Glenn Ells, of Sheffield Mills, said that the drastic drop in temperature overnight from June 3 to 4 resulted in a freeze, which is why so many crops across the Annapolis Valley were damaged so severely.
On Ellslea Farm, now operated by Glenn’s son Stephen, the approximately 32 acres of grape vines were heavily damaged as a result of the freeze.
“We’re concentrating more on next year’s crop; we’ve kind of written-off this year,” Ells said. “We’ll probably get between 10 and 15 per cent of a normal crop.”
Ells said he and his son had to prune a second time to remove what was damaged by the cold and ensure new growth comes up from the crowns so there will be good canes to lay down for next year’s crop.
As a result of the freeze, the Ells farm won’t have any L’Acadie grapes this year. A couple of acres of the Chardonnay might have normal fruit as there was a corner of the field at a higher elevation that appears to have survived the severe winter. The New York Muscat fruit is grown up high on trellises and appear to have withstood the cold.
Trying something new this year, he said a round baler was used to gather up the pruned grape vine material, ending up with several large bales. These were piled at the bottom of the New York Muscat planting and lit on fire early in the morning of June 4 to get the air moving a bit. Ells said he thinks this had some benefit.
Potato plants recovering
Berwick farmer Anthony Morse said the drop in temperature overnight from June 3 to 4 resulted in more than a frost, it was a freeze that he described as basically being a “natural disaster.”
Morse was able to protect his strawberries through irrigation, coating the young berries, blossoms and plants with water to build up a layer of ice protection as the mercury plunged. It got as cold as -3C that night in many Valley communities, perhaps colder in some locations.
Morse didn’t have irrigation set up to protect his early potatoes and the plants were severely damaged. However, Morse said on July 3 that the plants were rebounding nicely, looking better than he thought they would. At the same time, he still has no idea of how much yield would be impacted by the setback.
Berwick farmer Anthony Morse surveys the damage to his early potato plants caused by an overnight freeze June 3 to 4.