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Vermont farmers take stock of frost damage on apple, strawberry and blueberry crops

A closeup photo showing brown blossoms on a blueberry plant
Howard Weiss-Tisman
Vermont Public
Blueberry blossoms show frost damage on a bush at Green Mountain Orchards in Putney on Thursday, May 18.

Vermont fruit growers will be watching their crop in the coming days after a late-May frost hit most of the state.  

Temperatures dropped into the high 20s early Thursday morning and there is a potential for widespread damage to apple, strawberry and blueberry crops.

In Putney, Green Mountain Orchards co-owner Andrea Darrow said it will probably be a few days before she knows how the apple trees did in the cold weather.  

“At different temperatures there’s different percentage of loss, or damage, to the crop,” Darrow said. “So we don’t know exactly how that will play out. But we’re expecting significant loss to the crop.”  

A closeup photo of an apple tree in spring
Howard Weiss-Tisman
Vermont Public
A tiny apple at Green Mountain Orchards in Putney does not appear damaged, but orchard co-owner Andrea Darrow says it might be a few days before she knows if the crop was damaged by Thursday morning's frost.

Darrow said it remained below freezing for about four hours at her weather station on the orchard.  

UVM Extension Vegetable and Berry Specialist Vern Grubinger said the damage could be more extensive up north.  

He said a farmer in Barton recorded a low of 24 degrees on the farm.  

“There is definitely damage out there,” said Grubinger. “But it will take some time to assess the extent. Once we see black centers of strawberry flowers, and browned blueberry flowers, that’s a bummer.”  

The Agency of Agriculture said it hoped there was minimal damage after the cold night, and temperatures are not supposed to fall that low through the rest of the week.  

A person kneels in the dirt to plant a tree
Howard Weiss-Tisman
Vermont Public
Green Mountain Orchards co-owner Andrea Darrow plants a peach tree at the orchard in Putney on Thursday, May 18.

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Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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