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Apple farmers in N.S. doing fine despite a challenging season

Apples at Stephen Van Meekrans 125 acre farm in Nova Scotia. (CTV/Jonathan MacInnis) Apples at Stephen Van Meekrans 125 acre farm in Nova Scotia. (CTV/Jonathan MacInnis)

It’s been a trying year for farmers in Nova Scotia, with record cold, dry weather and an abundance of rain taking a toll on the harvest, but apples seem to be doing just fine.

Most of the varieties on Stephen Van Meekeran’s 125 acre farm in Kentville, N.S., are thriving.

“This year‘s crop looks very good,” says the apple grower.

Despite facing many challenges, the harvest has begun. Van Meekersn says it’s been a tense year with tough weather and Hurricane Lee causing some extra stress.

“As a grower, we were very concerned with the winds that were forecasted this close to harvest,” Van Meekeran says.

Fruit loss however was minimal, he sits at about 10 per cent. The storm, however, did help in one area.

“This year we’ve got a good amount of labor. I think maybe that’s what Hurricane Lee did help us with a bit because some of the highbush blueberries were damaged and they were nearing the end of the harvest I think,” says Van Meekeran.

“We rely mostly on seasonal agricultural workers and temporary foreign workers to come from other countries to pick the majority of the fruit,” adds Emily Lutz, the executive director of the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association.

While finding pickers might not be a problem, finding accommodations for them is proving to be difficult.

“One of the biggest challenges we have is housing for staff. Of course a lot of the staff live on farms and so it’s finding room for them on the farms and making sure that we’re meeting all the requirements to house the folks that come here,” Lutz says.

To help harvested crop that brings in $17 million dollars a year.

Stephen Van Meekeran says they will harvest throughout the month of October, with the goal of having all the apples picked by Nov. 1.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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