In the Northeast, lovers of stone fruits — peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, and cherries — are in for a tough summer, thanks to a very weird season for Northeastern farmers.
A strange warm spell in mid-winter followed by two brutal deep freezes have, according to surveys and several farmers we spoke to, completely decimated the stone fruit crops in the Northeast, from roughly central New Jersey on north through New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Here’s what happened: An unusually strong El Niño cycle in late 2015 through 2016, likely with the assistance of climate change’s unpredictability, resulted in a string of about a week in February of mid-50-degree-Fahrenheit days in this region. It was, at that point, the most unusually warm month in recorded history, according to NOAA. “Things like peaches, apricots, they start to come out pretty quick as soon as it gets warm out,” says Steven Clarke of Prospect Hill Orchards, in Milton, New York.
Those crazily warm days tricked the Northeastern stone fruit trees to think spring had arrived, and to begin putting out buds, which would eventually flower and... Read more