MOUNT VERNON — Take an early, warm spring, mix it with fluctuating temperatures through April and a couple nights with frost, and it raises the question: What effect has it had on orchard crops and on bees, which are so important to the pollination of orchards?
Locally, at least, apples and peaches seem to have come through in good shape and bees are plentiful, but the sweet cherry crop was lost or damaged.
The mild winter was easy on bees, with more surviving than in a normal winter, and the fruit trees blooming early meant food was available early.
“It’s looking like we’ll have a nice peach crop,” said Marshall Branstool at Branstool Orchard near Utica. “The apples also look good. Some varieties were hurt, but overall it looks good.”
Sweet cherries, however, were wiped out, he said, but they don’t have that many cherry trees.
Doug Hoar at Legend Hills Orchard, also near Utica, said they appear to have a full peach crop and although some varieties of apples were hurt a little bit, the overall crop is good.
Hoar said they have a couple beekeepers bring in hives for pollination and when the trees were in bloom there were good days for the bees: Warm and sunny, without rain.
As May starts, he said, peaches are a little ahead of schedule and apples about on time.
Branstool said he used to have people bring in hives, but the last four years he has relied on the local bee population.