Middlefield, Conn. (WTNH) -- The late freeze is making farmers very nervous: the apple trees bloomed earlier than ever this year, which means their crop is especially vulnerable tonight.
Inside the cold storage at Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, it's in the 30 degree range, but it is what it the temperatures dropping into the 20s that has them concerned. In cold storage, they will have apples through the next harvest, but it is the next harvest that could be determined by tonight's cold temperatures.
Blossoms are more than a month early with mother nature's wild and unpredictable Spring, bouncing up into the 80s last week and now dipping into the 20s. And at Lyman Orchards they are watching the mercury closely because every degree counts.
"At the stage we are in now, we lose about 10 percent at 28 degrees," said John Lyman. "If you drop another five degrees, you lose 90 percent. That is where we are very vulnerable tonight."
The State Department of Agriculture issued a frost warning to farmers, but Lyman says there is really nothing they can do. Due to the wind they can't spray the trees with water; freezing them can lock in heat, but even the apples which don't bloom until late April are starting to show.
"They are a little more protected," Lyman said, "but once they open and have green tissue you are really vulnerable, once you get to mid-20s.
Connecticut isn't alone, frost warnings have been issued from Vermont to West Virginia, Michigan to Pennsylvania. Tonight, crops are in real danger all across the north and east.
"All of the fruit that comes from the orchards here, it's wonderful," said Kathy Getchel, "and it is sad that it could be lost tonight."
"We do applies, raspberries, pears, anything that is in season we are here," said Andrea Salemme. "It would be sad. It's a family tradition."
"It has been a crazy 12 months I'm telling you," said Lyman.
For the next 24 to 48 hours they will be keeping a close eye on the temperature as every degree counts. They think they will know in the next two days just how much damage is done.
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