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Could above average temperatures this winter impact NY crops later this year?

Apple Blossoms
Amy Irish-Brown
Apple Blossoms

Despite fluctuating temperatures this winter impacting crops, spring and summer farmer’s markets still look safe — for now.

Chaotic winter weather will not be a cause for concern in agriculture just yet. Jason Londo, a professor of fruit crop physiology and climate adaptation at Cornell University said apple and grape crops are still safe despite losing some winter protection.

“Given what we’ve seen, growers can easily manage this particular winter,” Londo said.

That is not to say that no damage was done. A few large temperature drops did cause some damage to a few grape varieties. The impacted plants had begun to lose their “cold hardiness” or ability to withstand colder temperatures. Londo said unseasonably warm temperatures caused the plants to lower, and lose, their defenses too early.

“As you go longer and longer in the winter you lose more and more of your protection and it is harder to gain it back,” Londo said.

Despite a three-year trend of warmer winter temperatures, Londo said the “new normal” is anything but.

“People like to say the ‘new normal,’” Londo said. “The issue with climate change is that the new normal is actually no normal.”

The “no normal” just means more chaotic weather has been present. Londo said this makes growing crops more precarious.

“The system is more chaotic now,” Londo said. “So we can still monitor, we can still grow crops but the chaos level makes it more and more precarious.”

This winter is not totally unique, Londo said it is actually part of a concerning trend.

“The current winter is concerning because it’s part of a longer trend that leads us to think that it will be harder and harder to maintain high quality, high yield fruit,” Londo said.

Londo added that this is not the time to panic but to pay attention to climate changes.

“We are concerned, we aren’t panicking, and everyone should just be paying attention,” Londo said.

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Abigail Connolly