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

Morse’s Farm Limited owner and operator Anthony Morse examines damage caused to his early potato crop by a heavy frost overnight from June 3 to 4.
Berwick farmer Anthony Morse surveys the damage to his early potato plants caused by an overnight freeze June 3 to 4. - file photo

KENTVILLE, NS - With this year’s grape crop essentially written off, they’re 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, which is now operated by Glenn’s son Stephen, they have approximately 32 acres of grape vines. Ells said there was a lot of damage 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.”

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They had to prune a second time to remove what was damaged by the cold. He said they had to make sure new growth comes up from the crowns so they’ll have good canes to lay down for next year’s crop.

Ells said they wouldn’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 be okay. They fruit the New York Muscat up high on trellises and they appear to have withstood the cold.

Trying something new this year, he said they used a round bailer to gather up the pruned grape vine material, ending up with several large bails. 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 to protect them 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.

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

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