SOUTHERN TIER, N.Y. (WETM) — Earlier this month, the Southern Tier and the Finger Lakes experienced a late-season frost over the stretch of a ten-day period, resulting in the loss of large portions of the wine crop across the region.
On Friday, May 26, New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball, along with local leaders and state agencies, toured numerous vineyards to inspect the damages done to the crop.
“Our grape growers haven’t seen frost conditions this late in the season in decades, particularly in the counties we visited,” Ball said. “It’s imperative that we do everything we can to help all grape growers across the state who saw damage to their crops…” he said.
According to the Agriculture Department’s Division of Emergency Management and Cornell Cooperative Extension Disaster Education Network, during the period of May 15-25, low temperatures hit the state resulting in heavy damage to crops across many regions.
“New York grape growers suffered unprecedented damage after the May 18 freeze event due to an unusually warm spring that forced the onset of bud development several weeks ahead of normal,” said Sam Filler, Executive Director for New York Wine & Grape Foundation.
With such a widespread impact of the frost on the crops, the state is looking for ways to help farmers during this time of recovery.
The United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency recommends that farmers who have been impacted by the freeze should continue to document their conditions and any losses. From there, the FSA says that farmers can file a CCC-576 with their local USDA FSA.
With the frost damage being so widespread and impacting a majority of the vineyards in the Finger Lakes region, damage estimates are anywhere from 5-100%, according to Hans Walter-Peterson, Senior Viticulture Extension Specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension. Walter-Peterson said that they have to wait and see if there will be any secondary shoots that come from the vines in order to get a full assessment of the damages.
Senator Tom O’Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano were both on the vineyard tour to observe the damages, with both saying it’s important for farmers to receive the necessary assistance to help them in this time of need.
“These are major economic engines,” Palmesano said, “It is imperative that we immediately initiate a collaborative effort, at every level of government, to help deliver the assistance, resources, and support needed to help one of New York State’s most vital and productive industries recover,” he said.
According to NYS Agriculture, New York is the third largest grape producer and the third largest wine producer in the county, with an economic impact of $6.65 billion in the state.