WEBSTER, Minn. -- Mother Nature was not kind to some Minnesota apple growers this week. Two nights of hard freezes hit the crop hard at Sweetland Orchard.
"We are thinking with this week's earlier cold, we are probably looking at over 90 percent (damage)," said Mike Perbix, Sweetland Orchard owner. "They say like the 25 degrees, 24 degrees, that we were seeing, that is a 90 percent loss. We had that one night, then you compound that with the remaining 10 percent losing 90 percent of that, so, it is essentially a total crop loss this year."
Perbix consoles himself with doting on the couple's eight-month-old daughter, Audrey, and the expectation of doing postponed chores around the orchard now that he will not be tending to budding fruit. "The only positive spin I can put on this is at least I did not go through all the effort and then, in the middle of the season, I did not get just totally hailed out," said the Plymouth native and 2001 Wayzata High School alum.
He and his wife, Gretchen, also grow pears, plums and tart cherries, but those trees were damaged by the cold, as well. The Perbix's bought the former "Bob's Bluebird Orchard" three years ago. Perbix commented that "I really do not have a whole of background on this (cold weather problems)."
The former owner was fond of variety in his offerings. Thus, there are 900 trees in more than 50 varieties at Sweetland. They sell their apples to commercial outlets, mainly in the Twin Cities.
The Perbix's have Federal crop insurance, but they say that will only replace a fraction of their expected 2012 income. They hope to have a new business selling hard cider, later this year.
"The best insurance policy is probably the fact that my wife works off the farm," he commented.
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