‘Nat­u­ral dis­as­ter’

June overnight freeze re­sults in grape ‘write-off’ in Sh­effield Mills, Ber­wick potato plants re­bound­ing

Valley Journal Advertiser - - NEWS - BY KIRK STARRATT KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

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.

FILE PHOTO

Ber­wick farmer An­thony Morse sur­veys the dam­age to his early potato plants caused by an overnight freeze June 3 to 4.

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