Bayfield Apple Crop Survives Cold Close Call

By KBJR News 1

June 27, 2012 Updated Jun 27, 2012 at 12:05 PM CDT

Bayfield, WI (Northland's NewsCenter) - James Hauser Jr, fourth generation farmer for the century-old, family owned Superior View Farm, admitted he had his concerns with this year's early apple orchard bloom, followed by an almost predictable Northland cold streak.

"When we had that cold weather, there was a lot of concern if there was going to be damage to the blossoms, which means you wouldn't have a very big crop, or any apples at all. But, as of this point, there was a real heavy bloom, and there's still a few blooms on yet, but, at this point it looks like everything's going to be good, so there should be a great apple crop," said Hauser.

...good news for Hauser, as apples are easily his biggest cash crop. And, it seems to be the same case for most of Hauser's crops, which include pears and perennials. Cherries, however, weren't as lucky.

"The tart cherries, on the other hand--there's not going to be very many tart cherries at all. There [are] a few sweet cherries raised up here, and it looks like that crop is going to be very small, also," said Hauser.

...bad news for Door County, further south, where 80-90% of the crops are just that. Hauser said a hard frost that occurred further south, in Wisconsin--damaging apple production, as well--will only lead to a greater demand in Bayfield.

"Somebody's misfortune is not always--is never--good, but, if we're going to have apples, that might be a good thing," said Hauser.

And, while the frost scare seems to have come and gone, according to Hauser, when you own an orchard, there's always something new to be concerned with--namely, these little, hungry creatures, whether they be native or invasive.

"The gypsy moth is going to be more widespread. I think up here, now, we're in the quarantine area. They do feed on apple tree leaves," said Hauser, displaying a tiny caterpillar underneath an apple tree leaf.

...which can kill a crop if left unchecked. But, in the end, mother nature always has the potential to deal the biggest blow.

"My main concern has always been hail," said Lydia Hauser, "because it can damage your whole crop. It bruises the apples--just wipes them out. They're not a number 1 apple anymore after they're hit with hail."

...keeping fingers crossed until harvest season.

Speaking of invasive species, Wisconsin officials spent much of the early morning on Tuesday spraying fields with non-toxic chemicals, in an effort to slow the rapid spread of Gypsy moths.