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Regional fruit production threatened by warmer weather

Bittner Singer Farms

While the unseasonably mild weather may provide welcome relief to many in Western New York, the trend is reason for concern for area fruit farmers.

Jim Bittner of Bittner Singer Farms would like to see another month of cool weather which keeps his Appleton fruit trees in their winter dormancy. Warm weather can wake up the trees and start turning their branches green and potentially even starting to produce buds. Five-years ago, a few days of weather in the sixties started popping those buds, followed by a cold snap which chopped the final fruit production badly that year.

"You certainly don't want it to warm up too much," Bittner told WBFO News.

"The trees are dormant and the worst thing that can happen is we get a bunch of warm weather and they think it's springtime and they start to bud up or bloom and then if we get a freeze after that, we will lose next year's crop."

Bittner says his situation is a little different from some fruit farmers because his operations are right along Lake Ontario, which can keep the trees a little cooler than further away from the water. 

"Hopefully the lakes keep it cool. You can go inland and find warmer temperatures. But, you go by the lake and hopefully it's 10 degrees cooler, just to hold those trees back," said Bittner.

The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures in the fifties for most of the week. The high on Wednesday may reach 60.


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.