OBSERVER Staff Report
It has been a tough season for growers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The department reports that grape production in New York is expected to total 115,000 tons, according to growers' reports, a 39 percent decrease from a year ago. This forecast is the lowest since 1977, when 101 thousand tons was produced.
Locally, the results may be worse. According to the USDA, The Chautauqua-Lake Erie grape belt reported "a poor growing year." Unusually warm March weather produced early growth that was met with April freezes. The Finger Lakes region experienced the warm March and April freezes, but experienced less damage than the Lake Erie area.
"Across the state, growers faced more challenging growing conditions than last year," the USDA report said. "Warm weather in March resulted in an early bud break. This was followed by several frosts and freezes in April. Growers also encountered drought like conditions throughout June and July."
Long Island growers did not have the same issues with weather that growers in central and western New York experienced. U.S. grape production is forecast at 7.30 million tons, down 1 percent from 2011.
Apples are predicted to be poor as well.
Total apple production in New York is forecast at 590 million pounds based on conditions as of Aug. 1, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is 52 percent below the 1.22 billion pounds produced last year. This forecast is the lowest production estimate since 1948, when production was 564 million pounds. Across the state, growers reported significant losses due to adverse weather conditions. A warm spring season prompted trees to begin budding earlier than usual. Immediately following the warm spell in March, multiple freezes in April damaged many of the buds. In July, drought conditions hampered most of the remaining production. The first U.S. apple production forecast for the 2012 crop year is 8.07 billion pounds, 14 percent below the 2011 crop.
There are other fruits forecast to be down as well.
Peach production in New York is forecast at a record low, 2,700 tons. The forecasted production, if realized, would be down 60 percent from last year's level of 6,800 tons, and down 54 percent from 2010. The August 2012 forecast of U.S. peach production is 1.02 million tons, 5 percent below 2011.
Pear production in New York is expected to total a record low, 2,500 tons, down 79 percent from the production level in 2011. U.S. production is forecast at 878.5 thousand tons, down 8 percent from last year and 8 percent above 2010.