Important: orchard / vineyard freeze damage assessments

The devastating freeze event that nearly all of us saw on May 18 will have a massive impact on the 2023 Vermont apple and grape crops. I have met with Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts and representatives from our federal congressional delegation and they are working on finding resources to help support affected farmers. We have been asked to collect as much data as possible to help inform these efforts.

The UVM Fruit Team has developed an online reporting form to collect this information. This is separate from any assessments that may be conducted for crop insurance purposes- if you are making a claim, please contact your insurance representative in addition to filling out this form.

We also recommend contacting your local Farm Service Agency to establish access to any potential assistance with this event.

It is important that we develop the best assessment of damage possible in the region to inform any efforts to leverage support. These data come directly to me and I will share with the Agency and other organizations anonymously. You may answer any questions that you wish to.

We are asking for general economic impact on your farm, as well as block-by-block damage reports. You can fill out those block reports as much as you want- there are fifteen blocks or cultivars you can report; if you want to report more, just retake the survey and only complete that section. Most important is to report potential crop value lost in the final section.

My graduate student Eli Wilson noted his protocol; for collecting damage in apples. The collection should be similar in grapes but you will be assessing damaged shoots as opposed to fruitlets. Feel free to modify your protocol as you see fit, you will only be reporting percent of fruitlets or shoots damaged.

Apple fruitlet damage assessment protocol.

Be sure to take note of:

1. Location on slope (Top, mid-slope, bottom)

2. Row orientation (North to South, East to West)

3. Cultivar

4. # of damaged fruitlets

Collect a total of ten fruitlets per tree from the bottom, middle, and top of the canopy. Slice the fruitlets in half (vertically) to assess them for damage, any internal brown/yellow tissue or seeds should be considered damaged. Record the number of damaged fruitlets out of ten. Repeat this protocol for every eighth tree in a row and for every sixth row of a block unless you wish to assess a specific cultivar in which case you should add this row to your assessment but not substitute it.

**Attached to this email are images of a healthy fruitlet and a fruitlet with minor cold damage do give you a baseline for your assessments. Any fruit with that level of damage or higher should be include in your damage report**

Figure 1: Healthy apple fruitlet

Figure 2: Damaged apple fruitlet

My team will be available and conducting assessments around the state this week and likely next. There is a lot of ground to cover and we cannot hit every farm so please consider conducting your own assessment and reporting you data in the form. I will be monitoring the form and trying to get to underreported areas as I can, considering my other responsibilities at this time of year.

Please reach out to me if you have any questions,