Summer drought impacts Oswego County famers

OSWEGO, N.Y. – New York State is experiencing it’s worst drought on record. Farm owners in Oswego say they were prepared for a dry and hot summer.

“Realizing back in the end of May there was going to be a serious drought problem so we promptly jumped onto irrigation” said Ontario Orchards owner Dennis Ouellette.

Warmer temperatures this summer also created substantial setbacks for the orchards. The apple-picking season began two weeks behind schedule and is still running behind.

“The heat basically shuts the orchards down so the fruits not really maturing and it certainty is not coloring” said Dennis, “we’re on hold.”

Dennis said the setbacks are because of too many apples and not enough manpower.

“Instead of picking two or three varieties at one time we’ll be picking five varieties at one time…every one of those apples has to be picked by hand,” said Dennis.

The warmer temperatures can be a problem even after the apples are picked. The candy apple production at Ontario Orchards experienced challenges.

“If it’s too warm than nothing sticks to the apples themselves” said candy apple maker Sheila Clark.

Despite the weather challenges, this fall’s harvest is expected to be better than ever.

“The hot dry weather it just brings out good tasting, tastier apples, tastier grapes” said Dennis, “If you want to make a pumpkin its going to be one of the sweetest pie pumpkins you’ve ever had.”

Early action plans to deal with the weather is a good thing for customers. No price increases over last year are expected for fruits and vegetables.