Monitoring Freeze Watches is Important to One Local Farm

By Waldy Diez BALDWINSVILLE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Several counties in Central New York had their first frost warning of the season last night. While Onondaga County wasn’t one of them, it is still important to Michael Blair atAbbott Farms.

“These freeze events do matter to us, absolutely,” the production manager said. “This time of year, it doesn’t have a massive effect on us, but it is something we will keep track of and obviously watch.”

The farm is able to keep track of temperatures through its own weather station through the Network for Environment and Weather applications. The NEWA weather station also monitors humidity, dew points, wind speeds and how long apple leaves are wet.

“It’s important to us as farmers because the more moisture there is inside the tree, the more likelihood of us growing funguses and mildews and things like that in the tree that will eventually hurt the apples,” Blair said.

Another important factor for the farmers is how often there are deep freezes. He says apples are balls of sugar water that will expand when they freeze. The expansion kills the cells inside.

“Apples can survive three deep, hard freezes,” Blair said. “After that point, the motion of the freezing of the juices inside of them turns them to mush.”

At that point the apples are no longer marketable, and Abbott Farms would end apple-picking season early. A typical season for the farm runs from mid- to late-August to mid-November, even though Blair says they have made it to Thanksgiving one year.

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