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Apple farmers worried as unusual weather leads to crop shortage

Without the normal crop size, Holland’s MacQueen Orchard is adapting this fall.
The MacQueen family explains that the shortage in apples will not impact its local Apple Barn and Cider House, instead it will alter its national sales.
The MacQueen family explains that the shortage in apples will not impact its local Apple Barn and Cider House, instead it will alter its national sales.(Jack Bassett)
Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 5:37 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 24, 2020 at 6:04 PM EDT
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HOLLAND, Ohio (WTVG) - MacQueen Orchards' Apple Barn and Cider House serves up apples in all varieties, but the farm is most known for its endless fields filled with apples ripe for the picking.

“A normal year is about 110,000 bushels, and this year 50 ish, 50,000 bushels,” says Orchard President Jeff MacQueen. He’s been working on the farm for more than 50 years. The family-run business dates back nearly a century, to 1936.

In a year unlike any other, the apple crop at MacQueen’s is down drastically. The losses stem from freezing temperatures we had in late spring.

“We were in full bloom May 9th, can’t forget that one, and it got down to 24 degrees," says MacQueen. “When they’re in full bloom at 24, it’s devastating.”

The losses are being felt across the region.

“For most tree species you have one shot at flowering, if it happens during a cold snap, then you sustain heavy losses and that’s what happened to our apple farmers last spring," said University of Toledo Professor of Ecology Dr. Scott Heckathron.

Freshly fallen apples sit underneath a tree at MacQueen Orchards.
Freshly fallen apples sit underneath a tree at MacQueen Orchards.(Jack Bassett)

Amy MacQueen, who works alongside Jeff on their family’s farm calls it “a traumatic year for all crops.” But the real pain is yet to come. The MacQueen’s say they won’t take a financial hit until next year, with the biggest blows will be felt on the national scale.

“As far as shipping trailer loads in January, February, March we used to ship a lot down to Texas and Florida. We probably will stop that. We won’t have enough to do that,” said Jeff MacQueen.

If you are now worried about now getting your apple fix this fall, rest assured as MacQueen’s still has thousands of apples available to pick and choose from throughout their orchard.

“That just happens we try and try, but you just can’t fight mother nature, and next year we will be probably, hopefully, knock on wood, we will have a 100 percent crop," said Jeff MacQueen.

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