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erratic weather damages crops
May 5, 2012 3:51 PM   Subscribe

A catastrophic freeze has wiped out about 80 per cent of Ontario’s apple crop and has the province’s fruit industry looking at losses already estimated at more than $100 million. "Warm temperatures got fruit trees blooming early and when temperatures plummeted Sunday morning it damaged or wiped out much of the $60 million apple crop and 20 to 30 per cent of Ontario’s $48 million tender fruit crop which includes peaches, cherries, pears, plums and nectarines." Also see Michigan (tart & sweet cherries, apples, pears - "what sets this year apart is not just the severity of the damage but the variety of fruits affected") and western NY ("The erratic Rochester weather has taken its toll on local fruit crops... as much as 90 percent of apples, peaches, cherries, and raspberries in the area [are] destroyed").
posted by flex (78 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, that's pretty sad. Good luck to all the farmers affected.

And hopefully this isn't a derail, but as this kind of stuff starts to happen more and more, hopefully people will grasp that this is what climate change will be like/is like. We won't just get magically shorter winters in Ontario, for example.
posted by Alex404 at 3:59 PM on May 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Okay, I knew we'd play for that week of 80F highs in March in Chicago.
posted by eriko at 3:59 PM on May 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


Michigan's loss is Poland's gain.
posted by JohnR at 4:02 PM on May 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here in the mid-Atlantic I was terrified to see ornamental cherry trees starting to bloom in March. Having grown up in a family that kept an orchard and a flower garden, I remember the hurried efforts to put a cover over a plot of tulips ahead of a late snowfall because OMG snow certain destruction WTF. Unseasonable weather in early spring is terrifying precisely because there's simply nothing you can do to keep your plants from waking up too early in the season, and so you have to watch young leaves unfurling and flowers blooming, knowing full well how vulnerable they are to the inevitable return of the cold. Most terribly, the affected regions only have more of the same to look forward to as climate change continues unabated.
posted by Nomyte at 4:03 PM on May 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


I live in the centre of apple country (my local town is Ontario's apple capital). I was looking at my fruit trees earlier in the week and they're devastated. This is going to be catastrophic for the farmers around here -- they're all small operations. One of my best friends has 200 acres of apples and runs a cold storage facility. Things are pretty hand to mouth as it is with all the competition from Chinese and US fruit. Yikes.

(We have had some extraordinary weather here).
posted by unSane at 4:16 PM on May 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


This really sad to read about. Tart cherries are hard enough to find as it is (outside of northern Michigan when they are in season) and now it sounds like the crop is largely wiped out. I wonder if that means even more cherry orchards will turn into subdivisions.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:19 PM on May 5, 2012


My broccoli is bolting, my spinache is wilted and my sugar snap peas went to starch. I'm missing greens in my diet.
posted by humanfont at 4:25 PM on May 5, 2012


Is there a reason they weren't able to mitigate the disaster with smudge pots, orchard heaters, or other frost protection systems? I see there's a fan in the Michigan link so there must have been some attempts made but it seems like the damage could have been reduced since there was so much warning. I understand there's a big cost involved but it's cheaper than the alternative.
posted by euphorb at 4:26 PM on May 5, 2012


Sigh. I was lamenting last week how high fruit prices were getting, and now this is going to only drive them higher. I really feel horrible for all of these farmers, but also for all of the people who are slowly having any really healthy food priced out of their diets by climate change and industrialized super farm companies.
posted by strixus at 4:32 PM on May 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is there a reason they weren't able to mitigate the disaster with smudge pots, orchard heaters, or other frost protection systems?

Farmers here have all the stuff but we didn't just have frost -- at my house we had full on blizzards for two days plus near hurricane force winds. The orchard heaters can only do so much and are not designed for the extremes of weather we encountered. When you have 200 acres of apples and temperatures down to -10C plus wind, there's really nothing you can do.
posted by unSane at 4:46 PM on May 5, 2012 [14 favorites]


Just another data point - judging from the heating-degree days, here in St. Louis March was on average 2 degrees (F) warmer than April. WTF?
posted by notsnot at 4:50 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sometimes the course of human history is like watching a kid make incredibly dumb, deliberate, and injurious mistakes despite copious warning. Hopefully this will catalyze people to speak out to elected representatives about climate change.
posted by clockzero at 4:51 PM on May 5, 2012 [14 favorites]


Sometimes the course of human history is like watching a kid make incredibly dumb, deliberate, and injurious mistakes despite copious warning.

As a historian, I cannot tell you how incredibly and painfully true that statement is across the whole of human history. The only way I keep from breaking down in tears is by placing bets on which horrible thing will set civilization back 100+ years again the soonest.
posted by strixus at 4:55 PM on May 5, 2012 [41 favorites]


I heard someone whose partner works in the apple industry talk about this last week, and I really didnt want to believe it's true. This will be terrible not just for owners but all the migrant workers whose livelihood depends on the industry. Who knows what else they will be able to do; they're not skilled for anything else.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:56 PM on May 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


What about the grapes?
posted by anthill at 5:05 PM on May 5, 2012


Weather weirding is the new normal. Crop failure is one outcome.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:07 PM on May 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hopefully this will catalyze people to speak out to elected representatives about climate change.

It'll do no such thing, because a good portion of Americans (at least) continue to deny that the climate is changing, or say that if it is, it's a natural occurrence and we don't have anything to do with it.
posted by kgasmart at 5:07 PM on May 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Grapes haven't set flowers; they haven't even put out leaves yet. That'll be later. I live in Buffalo and I've been seeing this in the news for the past few weeks. We have orchards of peaches, apples, cherries, etc, a few miles north in Niagara County and all those farmers are looking at big losses. Leaves on grapes in my back yard have yet to furl yet the blossoms on the tiny cherry in my yard seems to be doing ok.
posted by jdfan at 5:09 PM on May 5, 2012


Early warm followed by a late freeze.

Is that "more" proof of global warming?

Or is it "more" proof of global cooling?
posted by caclwmr4 at 5:12 PM on May 5, 2012


Washington State's apple and cherry growing reason has been flirting with this lately, and only has escaped due to the capricious nature of the chaos system we call weather. In just 24 hours, the weather forecast for a large portion of the region changed from "snow and temperatures around freezing" to "clear and warm days, not that cold at night".

We seem to be having a very late spring all the way over here near Idaho (not part of that region), with moisture well above normal and less sunshine than expected for this time of year. I keep saying that "Today's weather is brought to you by the Seattle Board Of Tourism. Come to Seattle -- it's just like this!"
posted by hippybear at 5:15 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's more proof of extreme weather, which is a consequence of more energy in the atmosphere, which is a consequence of climate change.
posted by unSane at 5:16 PM on May 5, 2012 [16 favorites]


Is that "more" proof of global warming?

Or is it "more" proof of global cooling?


More proof of greater extremes in climate change. Get ready for more weirdness.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:17 PM on May 5, 2012 [21 favorites]


Grapes haven't set flowers; they haven't even put out leaves yet. That'll be later. I live in Buffalo and I've been seeing this in the news for the past few weeks. We have orchards of peaches, apples, cherries, etc, a few miles north in Niagara County and all those farmers are looking at big losses. Leaves on grapes in my back yard have yet to furl yet the blossoms on the tiny cherry in my yard seems to be doing ok.
posted by jdfan at 17:09 on May 5 [+] [!]
My three vines here in central Maryland are going nuts, in a (so far) good way. They all have nice leaves out, and my Concord has more bundles of fruit than I can count. I'm going to have to trim my muscadine back before it covers the back of the house. I expect that you guys are behind us a few weeks, though.
posted by wintermind at 5:17 PM on May 5, 2012


Warming, caclwmr4. Global warming adds heat to the atmosphere. Heat is energy. Energy is expressed as both temperature and wind speed. So winds blow further, and they take unseasonable temperatures into strange places.... warm air blows far too north, cold air blows far too south. Even if you add a few degrees to the overall average temperature, when the temps way up north are starting at, like, fifty below, that hardly matters. When that now-48-below wind gets moved by all that energy down into more temperate regions, well, havoc ensues.

In global warming, the hots get hotter, and the colds get colder. Everything gets more intense. But the overall average temperature steadily climbs.
posted by Malor at 5:20 PM on May 5, 2012 [36 favorites]


That's really sad. Canadian cherries are wonderful.

I don't see blueberries on that list. (Fingers crossed.)
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:23 PM on May 5, 2012


Every weird weather event is not evidence for global warming, nor is it necessarily a consequence of global warming. Nor is the lack of weird weather evidence that global warming isn't happening.
posted by empath at 5:25 PM on May 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Warming, caclwmr4. Global warming adds heat to the atmosphere. Heat is energy. Energy is expressed as both temperature and wind speed.

More importantly, warmer air holds more moisture and evaporates it from the ocean or land masses more readily than cold air, and then it rises up and gets cold and turns into snow or rain.
posted by hippybear at 5:25 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


weather ≠ climate
posted by unSane at 5:26 PM on May 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


I was waiting to hear something like this, after waking up ~2 weeks ago to a snow covered lawn. Not sure how to quantify how much this sucks. :(
posted by Dark Messiah at 5:30 PM on May 5, 2012


I really feel horrible for all of these farmers, but also for all of the people who are slowly having any really healthy food priced out of their diets by climate change and industrialized super farm companies.

What? If I had to pick just one thing that industrialization of agriculture has done, it would be "lower prices dramatically".
posted by indubitable at 5:31 PM on May 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is so terrible on a local level and on a larger scale not to mention the effects that the families of the farms will feel. Climate change is real and it bugs me that I already saw people commenting on news sites "It isn't global warming come on they froze". I was so Angry (capital A) because it was so asinine... we often get frost up until May two-four you idiot it was the AUGUST weather in April that made them bloom.

This year MrsGrowerler and I are starting a very large garden 1.5 acres and we have bees coming as well. I know very little about any type of horticulture but my heart bleeds for these farmers.

Meanwhile our dear leader things 140 million dollar planes are a great idea. Not the same problem and money doesn't fix what happened but lets get our priorities straight and start at least admitting we need to change frankly maybe capitalism like communism doesn't work

I feel so angry right now at the bullshit that is modern ideas of greed this isn't like a bank or a tech company losing 100 million dollars this is our food, forget the "loss to the economy" what about the ripples this will cause? What about bees and insects what effect will it have 1 year from now? Man... This is worse than I even can imagine.
posted by mrgroweler at 5:31 PM on May 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


I hate to say this but these kinds of stories routinely come out of Florida in terms of the orange crop and the disaster scenario is really far more the spinning of commodity speculators than it is actual damage done. Let's look at this story at harvest season and then we can assess the real damage.
posted by Xurando at 5:52 PM on May 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Thanks Xurando you are very right nature finds a way
posted by mrgroweler at 5:54 PM on May 5, 2012


I find blaming this on global warming, or climate change, asinine. You could just as well blame it on Obama, or DSK, or the Japanese tsunami/meltdown.

It's awful for the farmers involved this year but everything will recover. This is simply nature doing its normal thing. They'll have a perfect growing season and harvest in a year or two.

And some people will "blame" that on climate change. Sheesh.
posted by caclwmr4 at 5:56 PM on May 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm in Rochester and am very sad about this turn of events. Homegrown, fresh-picked strawberries (which are also pretty much shot) are amazing. Mr. Lucinda makes cherry pies completely from scratch every summer, and that probably won't happen either. It will be interesting to see what the summer's farmers' markets will be like.
posted by Lucinda at 6:00 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I imagine it's impossible to get insurance against something like this?
posted by Brocktoon at 6:00 PM on May 5, 2012


Homegrown, fresh-picked strawberries (which are also pretty much shot) are amazing.

My strawbs look fine -- they hadn't got close to flowering. My rhubarb sailed through too, and the blackberries and raspberries seem fine.


I imagine it's impossible to get insurance against something like this?

You can get insurance for pretty much anything but the problem is that apple-growing is such a low-margin activity that insuring for crop-loss would make it uneconomic (and it's pretty much uneconomic to start with unless you get pretty industrial).
posted by unSane at 6:13 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I imagine it's impossible to get insurance against something like this?

In the US growers can get crop insurance, but I don't know how it works in Canada. Whenever there are crop issues here from early frost or too little water, there is a disaster declaration which triggers types of federal aid and support.

When I saw the FPP, I thought it meant that the orchards in those areas were killed. They've actually "just" lost one year's crop, which is bad but not a fraction as devastating as it would have been if they'd lost all the trees. It will be a good year for West Coast and European growers, at least.

industrialized super farm companies

In the old days, a local crop failure meant you were pretty much fucked. Now it means that prices at the grocery store might go up slightly. There is a lot of production in different regions, and there are functioning markets and transportation systems. There's a lot not to love about industrial ag, but I'd never want to go back to a purely local subsistence system, either.
posted by Forktine at 6:18 PM on May 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


apple-growing is such a low-margin activity

Not around here, but I'm sure that depends greatly on location, how the market is doing, whether you are growing commodity fruit or something more high end, etc.
posted by Forktine at 6:20 PM on May 5, 2012


One of the things I noticed is the abundance of fungi and the spread of ferns. The fern thing often happens (around here anyway) in a system in distress. Same is often true of fungi. Mycelium are everywhere, but you don't often see the fruit, what we think of as the mushroom, until there's stress; after a forest fire, or when a tree disease passes through a local population. When you see ferns or mushrooms in the woods, at least in central PA, it's often a sign of a transition or a recent die-off of some kind. I've been a bit surprised by what I've seen of both of those organisms recently.
posted by Toekneesan at 6:23 PM on May 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


euphorb writes "Is there a reason they weren't able to mitigate the disaster with smudge pots, orchard heaters, or other frost protection systems? "

Early spring and then a week of -10 froze all the buds off my apricot tree; I'll be lucky if I get a dozen fruit off a tree that usually produces hundreds of large fruits. Not much you can do when the weather messes with you like that. It is one of the reasons I've planted a spread of fruit trees in my yard; some varieties blossom later than others.

anthill writes "What about the grapes?"

Grapes leaf out late and the blossoms come in after the leaves so they are generally safe from early season craziness.

It's been a weird year here. Some record rainfalls, a crazy early spring, and dandelions have exploded.
posted by Mitheral at 6:25 PM on May 5, 2012


caclwmr4: I find blaming this on global warming, or climate change, asinine. You could just as well blame it on Obama, or DSK, or the Japanese tsunami/meltdown.

It's awful for the farmers involved this year but everything will recover. This is simply nature doing its normal thing. They'll have a perfect growing season and harvest in a year or two.


You can't blame an individual event on global warming, because there's no way to know what would otherwise have happened. But we do know that global warming makes these things a lot more likely, so if you REALLY feel bad for the farmers, you won't stick your fingers in your ears about climate change.
posted by Malor at 6:32 PM on May 5, 2012 [17 favorites]


Not around here, but I'm sure that depends greatly on location, how the market is doing, whether you are growing commodity fruit or something more high end, etc.

Around here it's mostly small (really small) operations, mom and pop and a few Jamaican pickers in the season. There's one guy who's totally industrialized and he seems to be doing OK.

I had a little apple farm myself a few years back which I had fantasies of turning into an organic orchard but it wasn't remotely economic.

The most terrifying thing about living in apple country is that at least one of the local big grocery stores (Loblaw's) generally has not only no local apples for sale, but no Canadian apples at all. Luckily you can't drive a hundred yards without hitting an apple stand on the side of the road. A lot of the orchards around here are not being maintained... one of the strange pleasures of hiking and mountainbiking around here is suddenly finding yourself in an overgrown orchard absolutely groaning with fruit. Even my own property is dotted with fantastically productive old apple trees. Some of them taste great, others not, but they wonderfully useful for making jams in the fall (my wild grape jelly was astounding last year!). The downside is that if you have apple/cherry trees, you either have to spray them or accept that you're likely to get hit by fire blight or some other disaster, because all the abandoned orchards are a huge reservoir of disease. Pears, on the other hand, do fine, because they've never been a big crop round here.

To give you a sense of how important apples are around here, here's the Tourist Info Centre in the town ten miles away where my kids go to school.
posted by unSane at 6:43 PM on May 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


(oh yeah, and I'm pretty sure we have the only mountainbike trails where in the fall, apples are a hazard -- the ones under your wheels that send you flying, and the ones hanging from the trees that smack you on the forehead as you whizz past).
posted by unSane at 6:45 PM on May 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


how fucked is the cider industry in southern ontario now
posted by PinkMoose at 6:52 PM on May 5, 2012


Good explanation on how climate change increases the chance for both hot and cold weather extremes, Malor.

For those who still aren't convinced, do me a favor: go put some water in a pot, put it on the stove, turn on the heat, and watch it come to a boil. Seriously. It's a very simple way to observe just a small amount of added energy can greatly increase chaos in a system. When water starts to simmer, at around 200 degrees F, the bubbles are small and fairly orderly, really -- like the bubbles in soda. But add a a few degrees of heat and the water reaches a rolling boil -- huge, irregular bubbles and waves ricocheting everywhere around the pan.

Just as a hotter pot makes water boil more violently, a warming atmosphere makes weather everywhere more chaotic, because there is more energy to move air and water around. If you think of weather systems like the bubbles in a pot of boiling water, then you'll see how adding heat energy can make storms or wind patterns grow larger and move farther -- which will result not just in warmer weather, but also less predictable, more extreme weather -- including freak cold snaps and blizzards.
posted by BlueJae at 6:54 PM on May 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Did somebody mention blueberries?

Fly Threatens New England Blueberry Crop
posted by adamg at 6:56 PM on May 5, 2012


True, weather ≠ climate, but after a few more years of this it'll become blazingly apparent that the climate really had been changing.

It felt this year that what Ontario/East coast got, the West coast got the exact opposite. Very noticeably cooler (and a bit drier?) on the West coast, and we've yet to warm up. I had a massive dump of hail three days ago in Kits. An uncommonly massive dump of hail for out here. More hot air from the South violently interacting with cold air from the North.
posted by porpoise at 7:16 PM on May 5, 2012


I'm glad that we're not doing anything foolish here in the U.S., like cutting-back on agricultural research. That won't have any negative repercussions. I know that someone's going to come in and point out that the cut in the first link is only 1.5%, which isn't so bad, and in a vacuum it's not. However, years of flat budgets and hiring freezes have substantially eroded the capabilities of USDA's Agricultural Research Service, and the slow death of public universities has resulted in the virtual elimination of the Cooperative Extension Service. American agricultural productivity is one of the great success stories of the 20th century, and it sure seems as though we're happy to let it slip away from us.
posted by wintermind at 7:18 PM on May 5, 2012


"All fruit crops nationwide fail under attack from an army of Fruit Fuckers. Farmers are devastated. Back to you, Bob!"
posted by Nomyte at 7:19 PM on May 5, 2012


*Disclaimer: As an ARS employee, I have a vested interest in the agency's success.
posted by wintermind at 7:20 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


This may also be a problem for Jamaican migrant workers.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:42 PM on May 5, 2012


So, who's gonna do something about this climate change business? What's it gonna take?
posted by nowhere man at 7:43 PM on May 5, 2012


Is that "more" proof of global warming?

Yes. AGW doesn't make places warm uniformly - it puts more energy into the climate. Storms are more intense, unseasonable weather is more extreme, heatwaves are hotter, and cold snaps colder... rains come in a deluge, dry spells last for years.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:44 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, who's gonna do something about this climate change business? What's it gonna take?

Nobody. It's too late now. We had a chance 10-20 years ago to do something about it, but our lack of action in the meanwhile has led the system to the tipping point. Even if we were to completely halt any and all human activities which give support to continued warming RIGHT NOW (which wouldn't possibly happen), the balance has been disturbed to the point where we would have to live through several decades of increased warming before the system could possibly begin to stabilize and maybe (just maybe, probably not) find a way to counteract what we've done and reduce the results of our actions and allow a retreat to what we might call 1970 "normal".

People have been tolling the bell about this for years, and nobody has listened. Now, well, don't ask for whom the bell tolls.
posted by hippybear at 8:10 PM on May 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


.
posted by caclwmr4 at 8:14 PM on May 5, 2012


This may also be a problem for Jamaican migrant workers.

No kidding. I know a couple of these guys because they come to the bar where I sometimes do the ope mic thing. Some of the older folks round here regard them with deep suspicion and there are a couple of stores where it's made clear they're not welcome, but the ones I know are the sweetest guys. They walk into this tiny WHITE SO WHITE bar where guys in plaid shirts are singing Neil Young covers, and when their turn comes they start toasting, and it's truly awesome. Or they'll sing some lovers rock or a few Bob Marley covers while the white guys with the acoustic guitars (including me) try to fake their way through the changes.

They live in the most appalling conditions -- bunkhouses fashioned from old trailers, stinking carpets, leaking roofs, camp beds, water supplied from a rusty tank on stilts, no heating -- and ride ancient bikes with no lights everywhere (there's a push to get them lights in the local community but it hasn't gotten very far). It's total Cider House Rules stuff. My friend who has the apple farm has had the same guys coming to his farm for twenty years. He told me it's his job to hook them up with the local hooker (there is exactly one, I'm told, and his exact description was 'not first drawer') and then take them to the local doc to get the inevitable VD treated later.

It's a wierd situation because, like I say, this is an ultimate white bread, traditional Christian community with a lot of historical prejudice against the Jamaican guys, who undoubtedly live in horrific conditions and are paid very poorly -- and on whom the apple crop depends -- but on the other hand there's a very familial feeling about the whole thing and certainly I've never picked up any explicit tension whatever between the Jamaican guys who turn up to sing Dennis Brown (or Al Green on occasion) and the Neil Young/Nickelback crowd. In one way it's a sort of wonderful disjunction/mashup, but in another you can't help feeling there's a whiff of the Old South.

On the whole, though, I think there's a feeling of responsibility towards the guys who come back year after year and depend on the fruit harvest. So that's yet another crappy part of this for everyone.
posted by unSane at 8:23 PM on May 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


at a rooftop garden i frequent, the owner of the building was making "bee tea" for the hive she keeps for pollinating the garden. i thought that she was cooking up some weird insect brew but it was actually a sweated concoction meant to FEED THE BEES.

she said that since the weather had not dropped below freezing point for more than 72 consecutive hours, the bees had consumed all the pollen there was to consume and had no more food to go. so this homemade sugary water was meant to keep them alive until, the next pollen explotion. when checking up on the bees, was told spring pollination isnt looking good. looks like it's not gonna happen until deep into June, July.

from a farmer's perspective, that's fucking scary.
posted by liza at 8:43 PM on May 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


ugh, dysgraphia in action, sorry.

the point of the 72 consecutive hours below zero, is that the bees then go into hybernation and the plants get their pollen freak on. unfortunately, because of the early spring, the bees in turn, went into a full on feeding party putting stress on the plants.

or so our urban farmer said.
posted by liza at 8:54 PM on May 5, 2012


more on bee starvation and warm winters
posted by unSane at 8:58 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's been a warm winter here in Tucson. December was cooler than usual, but since the calendar turned over to 2012 we've been 5-10 degrees over normal for most of the year. (We got our first triple digit high of the year two weeks ago, a month earlier than normal.) I planted back in late March, deciding that the chance of one more frost was as low as we were going to get. At the time I was wondering how this crazy weather was going to work out for gardeners and growers in colder climates. Sadly, now we know.
posted by azpenguin at 10:55 PM on May 5, 2012


The most terrifying thing about living in apple country is that at least one of the local big grocery stores (Loblaw's) generally has not only no local apples for sale, but no Canadian apples at all.

I have the opposite problem here. The stores sell only local apples, which is awesome when they are in season. But six months later, I'd much rather the store brought in good apples from Chile or New Zealand rather than having sad bins of cold storage apples with big "LOCAL!" signs.

My friend who has the apple farm has had the same guys coming to his farm for twenty years. He told me it's his job to hook them up with the local hooker (there is exactly one, I'm told, and his exact description was 'not first drawer') and then take them to the local doc to get the inevitable VD treated later.

I'm cracking up because a while back I was drinking beers with a bunch of guys who do migrant farm work, and they were telling the same story but from the opposite perspective, about being loaded into the back of a flatbed truck and driven into town to visit a most unappealing house of prostitution. On other farms the hookers are brought to them, which is easier but ends up costing them more. (Funny stories aside, the patronizing of sex workers is actually a complicated public health issue, along with the down-low MSM activity that takes place in the camps, because they travel around, catch diseases, and bring them back to their wives back home.)
posted by Forktine at 11:03 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of that spot on the board of The Farming Game that I always land on when I try to harvest my fruit.
posted by ikahime at 11:05 PM on May 5, 2012


You can get insurance for pretty much anything but the problem is that apple-growing is such a low-margin activity that insuring for crop-loss would make it uneconomic (and it's pretty much uneconomic to start with unless you get pretty industrial).

Seems if the revenue is low the insurance premium would be correspondingly low. Is it that apple insurance is one size fits all?
posted by michaelh at 11:35 PM on May 5, 2012


Warm weather gums up Minnesota maple syrup season.

Likewise, the apple industry was hit here too, a little earlier than in Ontario, but similar scenario. Trees flowered too early due to warm weather, then a frost messed things up.
posted by gimonca at 11:38 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, that's pretty sad.

It's worse than sad. It's appallel...applealling...

Hmm. It was better in my head.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:46 PM on May 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seems if the revenue is low the insurance premium would be correspondingly low. Is it that apple insurance is one size fits all?

It's not the revenues that a low, but the margins. If your margin is 6% and the insurance is 5%, (made up figures) you see the problem.
posted by unSane at 5:00 AM on May 6, 2012


Extreme highs, extreme lows: Mississippi River flow.
posted by dragonsi55 at 5:41 AM on May 6, 2012


Wintermind: I'm glad that we're not doing anything foolish here in the U.S., like cutting-back on agricultural research. That won't have any negative repercussions.

No, not at all. I'm sure the US is just following Canada's example - if there are inconvenient issues and trends that don't match the government's goals, just cut off scientists' funding. The public perception has been created that scientists are promoting these issues to make money, not because they're real issues.
posted by sneebler at 7:04 AM on May 6, 2012


So sad!

Maybe time to go to Costco and get bags of dried cherries?
posted by nickyskye at 10:37 AM on May 6, 2012


It's not the revenues that a low, but the margins. If your margin is 6% and the insurance is 5%, (made up figures) you see the problem.

Sounds like expenses are too high. That's not an easy problem to solve.
posted by michaelh at 10:53 AM on May 6, 2012


But six months later, I'd much rather the store brought in good apples from Chile or New Zealand rather than having sad bins of cold storage apples with big "LOCAL!" signs.

I'm kind of the other way... I prefer to eat the local stuff if I can. I can't tell a difference between the local storage apples and the imports, which have usually been in storage anyway. My friend has one of the storage facilities and it's like rocket science.
posted by unSane at 6:09 PM on May 6, 2012


(although I'll admit there's some basic chauvinism at work here -- most of the import apples are from the US and the food standards are SO MUCH LOWER than in Canada it makes me feel icky, even though really there's not much that can go wrong with apples, so long as you wash them. And the apples from China, who knows?)
posted by unSane at 6:11 PM on May 6, 2012


(although I'll admit there's some basic chauvinism at work here -- most of the import apples are from the US and the food standards are SO MUCH LOWER than in Canada it makes me feel icky

I want southern hemisphere apples six months later because they will be in season! If you are being handed trucked-in northern hemisphere apples, out of season, in place of local cold storage (equally out of season, but with less handling), I can see why you would be cranky.
posted by Forktine at 6:40 PM on May 6, 2012


Yeah, I get that, Forktine, but honestly cold storage for apples is so good I can't taste a difference.
posted by unSane at 6:42 PM on May 6, 2012


(also I love macs and spys and usually the imports are neither)
posted by unSane at 6:46 PM on May 6, 2012


(although round here the apple the apple farmers actually eat is the Honeycrisp, which seems to be poised for world domination)
posted by unSane at 6:48 PM on May 6, 2012


> But six months later, I'd much rather the store brought in good apples from Chile or New
> Zealand rather than having sad bins of cold storage apples with big "LOCAL!" signs.

How about cellar storage? Among Farley Mowat's many books (he is like Canada's national author or something) is a very funny collection of boy-and-his-dog reminiscences--make that ROTFL funny, I thought when I (also a kid) first read it--in which he says his family had an apple barrel in their cellar for overwintering. When his mom sent him downstairs for apples for the dinner table she always said "Get the spotted and wrinkled ones." Mowat claimed he never ate a completely sound apple until he had grown up and left home. (Book is The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, the setting Saskatoon in the dust bowl years. I read it aloud to my kids when they were at the correct ROTFL age and they did indeed ROTFL. Funny kid-and-dog books never age.)
posted by jfuller at 12:56 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


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