August 28, 2014

Elyria
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Dry summer takes toll on fruit crops

COLUMBUS — A late-spring freeze followed by a dry summer has damaged Ohio’s strawberry, peach and pear crop and threatens this fall’s apple harvest.
Shoppers can usually find Ohio-grown strawberries at farm markets throughout June and the first week of July. This year, they were available for barely three weeks.
Kerry Sullivan, manager of Jacquemin Farms of Plain City, northwest of Columbus, brought strawberries to market only once this year, and she sold her                 40 quarts in 20 minutes. Normally she brings 150 to 200 quarts of berries a day for nearly three weeks in June. “We’ve been growing strawberries for 20 years, and this is our worst year ever,” Sullivan said.
She estimated that her farm had about half as many berries this year as last.
Crum’s Strawberry Farm in Marion is reporting its worst year in its 30-year history. Cabot Detrow, a cook at G. Michael’s Bistro & Bar in Columbus, said the strawberry shortage is a drag on the restaurant business. He normally features them in ice cream or as strawberry shortcakes but has only used them to garnish dishes with a bit of color this year.
The upside is that central Ohio raspberries are doing well. The crop has been good, said Gary Gao, an educator with the Ohio State University Extension in Delaware County. The same can’t be said of local apples, peaches, pears and plums, which were severely damaged by April frost. Lynd Fruit Farm in Pataskala lost its entire cherry, plum and pear crop and many of its peaches.
Locals will miss the apples when fall rolls around, said Mitch Lynd, one of the fruit farm’s owners. He said 95 percent of the crop was wiped out. 
“That’s never happened before,” Lynd said. “And it was uninsured, too. We’ve lost in excess of a million dollars, and we have to mortgage the farm, again. We’ve done it three times in my lifetime.”
Lynd’s farm is normally is crowded with people picking their own in September and October. This year, Lynd said, there will be no picking in September and only a few days in October.