By: CBC News
Published: May 28, 2013

Photo Credit: FarmStart

Tomato farmers are trying to calculate the total cost of damage frost did to their crops on the weekend.

Walter Brown grows more than 70 hectares of processing tomatoes on his Leamington farm and called it an unusual cold snap. He saw the thermometer dip almost to the freezing point on Saturday morning. Brown estimates the damage to be between 10-30 per cent. But he says it’s not as if farmers were in too big of a hurry to plant.

“Every year … we get into some close calls as far as cold weather. But to put that many acres in, we cannot wait until there’s no chance of frost,” Brown said. “We’d have to wait until the end of May or the first of June. By that time, we want to be done planting.”

Brown said there aren’t enough plants left to replace the ones that have died on the weekend.

“For the most part, we’re going to have to live with the plant stand we do have… and then most definitely it will affect the yield to some extent,” he said.

Brown said it will be a tough year to make money.

“At the same time now, we’re looking at probably a yield that will not be what we had hoped for,” he said. “So it looks a bit like a bleak year as far as the processing industry and income for growers.”

It wasn’t just tomatoes affected by the frost. Mark Balkwill, president of the Essex County Federation of Agriculture, said asparagus was also affected. Meanwhile, farmer Larry Verbeke called the cold snap “a close call.” he reported damage to his vegetable crops, including frost on cucumbers, zucchini and green beans.


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