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May. 18, 2021 | Tuesday
Local News
Cold weather interrupts early farming season
A late-April snow last week left young fruit buds covered — farmers say the white blanket may have saved the buds from harmful sub-zero temperatures. (Richard Harley)

Bernard Lansbergen
Special to Niagara Now/The Lake Report

Despite warmer weather of late, last week still saw the Niagara region covered in about 15 centimetres of snow.

It was a cozy “winterlude” for some and a real headache for others, especially local farmers whose crops had already started blooming.

“When the blossoms are out every year, you kind of worry about it,” says Maureen MacSween from MacSween Farms, where apricots, plums, cherries, nectarines and peaches are starting to grow.

“We were worried when we did have cold temperatures,” she said. “It’s one of those things a farmer has to contend with every year.”

“We’re quite confident there wasn’t any damage,” said MacSween, adding that the pink of the blossoms, paired with the white of the snow made for quite a magnificent view.

Snow itself isn’t the issue, explained Kai Wiens from Queenston-based Kai Wiens Family Farm, whose crops consist of peaches, nectarines, cherries, and plums.

“It’s temperatures. At -2.7 degrees, you lose about 10 per cent of the blooms, and at -5 (degrees) you lose 90 per cent.”

For now it’s too early to say what effect the temperatures will have had on the blooms, because a few hot days are necessary before the damage can be assessed, but the hope is that the snow will have prevented most damage.

“The idea is that the snow covered the bloom completely and, (because) snow is zero degrees, hopefully the bloom was at zero degrees,” he told The Lake Report.

This kind of fluctuating weather isn’t that strange for a place like NOTL. “The climate is always changing,” said Wiens, pointing out he also had snow in his blooms back in 1990.

“If we have an early season, that’s good for us,” said Wiens, adding that this year’s season started 10 days early. “I think it’s going to be a really good (one).”

MacSween noted, “There’s a lot of blooms out there. We have beehives and they’ve been pollinating all of the fruit so it looks like it’s going to be a spectacular year.”

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