Nova Scotia apple growers are breathing a sigh of relief following the weekend’s Tropical Storm Lee which, going into the weekend, was expected to be Hurricane Lee. “Things are better than we expected them to be,” said Emily Lutz, executive director of the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association “I’m hearing reports of some downed trees, some downed trellises and some fruit on the ground but nothing near what we anticipated when we were looking at the forecast--particularly for the wind.”
The tropical storm went directly over the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, the primary tree fruit-growing region in the province.
Lee did go directly over the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, the primary tree fruit-growing region in the province. “It just wasn’t at the strength we anticipated. Everybody across the board got hit with lots of rain and some high winds but overall, the gusts weren’t high enough that there were catastrophic losses,” said Lutz.
While apple harvest began in Nova Scotia at the beginning of September on earlier varieties such as Paula Red, Gravensteins, SweeTango and Rave, this week is when the Honeycrisp variety is embarking on the harvest. With Honeycrisp accounting for 37 percent of all the apples grown in Nova Scotia, Lutz says growers feel lucky that things weren’t worse.
Looking ahead at storage
What growers will now be on watch for is the long-term storability of the apples. “At this time of year, we think about if we get too much rain at harvest time, particularly combined with heat, you can see storage disorder in the apples and it shows up a few months down the road. So we’re hoping for no more rain--it also makes for pretty miserable picking conditions,” said Lutz, adding that Nova Scotia has already seen an extremely rainy summer.
Extreme temperature fluctuations in February largely affected the peach crop bloom.
This weather event follows an earlier challenge that stone fruit growers in Nova Scotia faced in the spring. A period of warm temperatures followed by a sudden drastic drop in weather conditions killed off the province’s stone fruit crop this year. “Stone fruit doesn’t account for a lot of the tree fruit here in Nova Scotia--it’s less than five percent--but it was still a blow to the industry,” said Lutz, noting that on top of that, in July, it was also announced that the Great Valley Juices plant in Port William, Nova Scotia would close. However, Nova Scotia tree fruit growers are able to ship fruit to Quebec for processing.