USApple grove apples

Apr 5, 2024
USApple webinar: little spring weather concern

As spring blooms move into the summer months, temperatures, drought, storms and potential late freezes can keep growers on their toes.

Though high temperatures can be a concern, apple growers in the major U.S. growing regions shouldn’t worry too much about how spring weather could influence fruit development outside of potential late April frost.

USApple weather seminarThat’s the word from Drew Lerner, senior agricultural meteorologist, founder and president of World Weather Inc.

Lerner gave his insights to growers during an April 4 webinar on how weather could threaten 2024 apple production.

“For all practical purposes, you should have a good year this year,” Lerner said. “The only potential problem is that period in the last 10 days of April where we do have at least a risk of some cold weather. How cold it gets is still quite debatable. But, I think once we get into the first week of May, if we have not seen a frost or freeze event, I think we’ll be home free from that point onward.”

Growers should expect spring seasonal temperatures. A mixed weather pattern should occur for eastern and western production regions.

“It’s not a bad scenario,” Lerner said. “I do think the spring season will be a little bit wetter biased, at least in April Nothing extreme, nothing excessive. We may have our moment or two where it gets really warm, but it’s not going to stay. We’ll go right back into a more normal-ish temperature regime.” There is a chance, however, of cold late April temperatures, he said.

As the Pacific Northwest is an area where apples should mature in a fairly stable environment this spring, Lerner doesn’t expect to see many problems in the region.

While drought is affecting other U.S. agriculture production regions, it isn’t expected to cause any serious prolonged dryness issues in the major commercial apple production regions, he said.

apple field bins


“Any part of our eastern US production areas, Michigan, New York, and down to Pennsylvania, all of that region over there is in pretty good shape moisture wise,” Lerner said. “It has been a little bit dryer in Washington over the winter and our moisture profiles are a little bit down and so that will be of interest. But, I think we have enough water in the in the supply chain to continue to support our crops favorably.”

Lerner pointed to NASA charts which estimate groundwater supplies and root zone conditions. Both appear favorable, he said.

A handful of areas in the Northwest show areas of low groundwater, but, because growers source most of their water from irrigation, it shouldn’t be an issue, Lerner said.

Three of five reservoirs feeding the Yakima Valley display lower than normal water levels. Despite below average snowpack, the region should experience runoff.

“But this isn’t critical stuff,” Lerner said. If it didn’t rain through the whole of the rest of the, growing season, there would be enough water supply here to support the irrigation for the bulk of the crop across Washington. “We are not critically low on the water supply to the point of raising any real serious threats to the bulk of the production area,” he said.

In the eastern part of the U.S., there isn’t much to be focused on either, Lerner said. “We still have kind of a mix, but none of the extremes in the groundwater anomalies here are great enough to raise any serious word of caution so we’re as long as we get timely rains go forward through the growing season,” he said. “I think we’re going to be in fairly good shape.”

Central U.S. growing regions should be concerned about a potential El Nino, which could affect pockets of significant production in Missouri and elsewhere, where extremely high temperatures could be problematic, Lerner said.

View the webinar here.

— Doug Ohlemeier, assistant editor

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