Pick-your-own apples in short supply
Chudleigh's Apple Farm in Milton is one of few Ontario orchards who have opted to offer pick-your-own apples this Fall, thanks to a lack of fruit.
Owner Tom Chudleigh says 80 percent of his crop was lost to a late-April frost, with the temperature dipping to -9 celcius.
Chudleigh says most Ontario farmers lost the majority of their crops.
Chudleigh's decided to keep their pick-your-own service available but Tom thinks the farm could run out of those apples by the end of the weekend, if the weather is good and demand is high.
That's why the orchard is offering up different kinds of entertainment for families.
"We've got 50-foot rope swings that kids can swing on, and the tractor rides are still going on along with the hay maze and barbeques."
He says across Ontario, McIntosh apples were hit the hardest but Golden Delicious, Northern Spys and Honey Crisp apples fared better because those varieties bloom later and so avoided the frost.
That cold snap is having a big impact on apple prices.
For example, you can usually buy a pound of apples at Chudleigh's for less than $1 but this season, the farm is selling apples for $1.50 to $2 per pound.
Chudleigh adds the poor crop has also affected the labour market.
"We usually employ up to 108 people here on the farm to look after customers that pick their own but we're down to about 68 or 70," he says.
Chudleigh says apple farmers in Nova Scotia, BC and Washington state will pick up the slack for Ontario's poor crop.
The silver lining is that Chudleigh expects next year's Ontario apple crop to be a good one, barring any unusual weather.
He says because many trees have not produced fruit, all of their energy will be put towards getting ready for the coming spring.