July 30, 2013


Growing season mixed for fruit farmers

PickBob Ellis/staff photographer
Donna McClory-Lyon picks blueberries Thursday at Hall’s Hill Blueberry Farm in Virgil. Farm owner Jeff Hall says blueberries are very abundant this season.

Staff Reporter

This year’s chilly spring and rainy summer along with a recent heat wave have been good and bad for fruit growing, according to local growers.
Dave Root, owner of Dave’s Veggies in Homer, said his farm specializes mostly in vegetables, but he has a self-pick operation for blueberries on his farm as well.
“It’s a good crop this year,” Root said of the blueberries. “It’s larger and it’s plump and juicy.”
The Knapp family has been growing pick-your-own strawberries at Cobblestone Valley Farm in Preble for over 30 years. Owner Paul Knapp said his strawberry crop would have been larger this year had it not been for the heavy rains in the beginning of July.
“We had a nice crop other than we had a few untimely rains that didn’t help the harvest,” Knapp said. “Between the heat and the humidity and the rain, we lost some of our crop.”
Susan Bower is one of the co-owners at Grisamore Farms in Locke, Cayuga County. She said her farm had a few issues with frost last year but it did not seem to have an effect on this year’s yield.
“We have pretty good crops,” Bower said. “So far, they (the strawberries) have the most fruit (and) we have a really nice blueberry crop right now.”
Bower added the warm winter weather helped this season and, with the exception of beginning to pick fruit with a mechanical harvester, there was no difference in the way the farm operated that contributed to the high yield.
“It depends on the weather,” Bower said. “We had good weather mostly. We try to do the same (work) every year — pruning, weed control — that kind of thing.”
This year’s weather patterns proved to be best for fruit-bearing trees and few farms have orchards in Cortland County.
“In general, this has been a really nice year for tree fruit,” said Mike Fargione, a fruit expert with the Cornell Cooperative Extension in the lower Hudson Valley. “There was excellent bloom and good growing conditions, and everywhere I go I’m seeing excellent quality.”
Cornell University horticulture professor Marvin Pritts said farmers are in a good position.
“Everybody should be pretty happy with their prospects this year,” Pritts said. “Every fruit crop in the Northeast has really set up nicely. Apples, grapes, blueberries, raspberries; they’re all looking good.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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