Tuesday, October 2, 2007

April Freeze Damage

I’ve received so many calls the past three weeks from consumers wanting to find Missouri apples. Whether consumers are looking for an apple U-Pick operation or a farmer that sells apples at a local farmers’ market, either way Missouri apples are hard to come by this season.

(Photo: Sandy Binder rings up an apple sale for what apples she got this season. LARGE IMAGE)

The April freeze this past spring did a lot of damage to our Missouri growers across the state, an estimated $400 million in damage to be exact. Fruit production accounted for $21 million of that total.

Blackberry, blueberry, peach and apple production was practically wiped out this season, but many consumers may have forgotten the freeze according to Sandy Binder of Binder's Hilltop Apple & Berry Farm & Mid MO Alpacas in Mexico.

“We have gotten so many calls from people wanting to come and pick apples and we tell them we don’t have any apples this season because of the freeze,” said Sandy. “I think many have forgot about the freeze we had.”

In southwest and central Missouri there was about a 90-100% loss of apple crop and in parts of northern Missouri about a 85% loss.

I visited with Missouri Ag Statistics Service (MASS) last week preparing for a tv interview with KOMU about the freeze damage. MASS reports that peaches usually accounted for about $5 million in sales and this year will only account for $800,000. Apples usually account for around $8.5 million and this season will only account for $1.7 million.

Looking towards the future, since there was really no crop this year, it could mean a nice bumper crop next season.

Many U-Pick operations and producers that sell at farmers’ markets have had to supplement within their operations this season. Sandy Binder has done so with her alpaca business. Sandy says since she had very little apples to sell at the Columbia and Mexico Farmers’ Markets, she has had time to really build her alpaca business.

“Within our alpaca operation we sell breeding stock, raw fiber, roving yarn, hand woven items, sweaters, socks, scarves, throws and blankets made from alpaca fiber,” explains Sandy.

Products that Sandy sells include: Bread, Baked Goods, Desserts, Cosmetics, Educational Farm, Fresh Vegetables and Herbs, Fresh Fruit, Gifts, Honey, Liquid and Creamed Flavored Honey, Jellies, Jams, Apple Butter, Non-Food Products, Roadside Market, U-pick Farm, Eggs, Alpaca Fiber (woven, knitted & felted products), Hand Milled Soaps, we have u-pick for apples only.

For more information on U-Pick operations around the state log onto AgriMissouri.com.

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