VAN ETTEN, N.Y. (WETM) – For the first time in more than two decades, Autumn Stoscheck, the owner of Eve’s Cidery in Van Etten, says this year’s crop of apples and pears is a total loss. Federal low-interest emergency loans are now available to help famers like Stoscheck who were impacted by a devastating spring freeze.

“We’re approaching the fall harvest season now like for the first time in 21 years, we’re not like gearing up to figure out how to pick.” Stoscheck says before the freeze took hold in May, this year’s crop was promising to be her biggest yet.

“We had a massive bloom, really exciting. I was starting to think about how we’re going to hire enough people to pick the fruit and so on and so forth,” said Stoscheck. “And then we had a deep freeze on May 18. It went to 25 degrees for five hours, which you know, is as cold as it got in February honestly. Unfortunately, most of our varieties were at the two to four millimeter fruit size, which essentially is a phenological stage in which the apple tree is not really protected from freeze.”

“We had a total crop loss. We estimated to be a 90-thousand-dollar crop loss,” said Stoscheck. “This is not a disaster that I really would have conceived of. We’ve definitely been through late spring frost where we have lost significant portions of our crop and it’s been like super painful, but it just really never occurred to me that you could lose your entire crop. So, it’s a big wake up call.”

According to New York Senator Chuck Schumer’s office, 30% or more of apple and blueberry crops were lost in both Chemung and Tioga Counties. Schuyler County lost 30% or more of its grape and apple crops. Steuben County lost at least 30% of its grapes.

18 News reporter Nick Dubina also spoke by phone with Alec Moore, the owner of ‘Apples & Moore” in Watkins Glen. Mr. Moore said the May freeze destroyed 50% of his apple crop when temperatures dipped to 22 degrees. Mr. Moore estimates he lost about 4,000 bushels. He also says the freeze did not affect all orchards the same across the state. Mr. Moore says orchards closer to lakes fared better due to warmer temperatures, when compared to orchards closer to valleys and wooded areas. On its website, Apples & Moore says it will be opening Saturday August 26th with some temporary changes due to the crop loss.

18 News also spoke by phone with David Stamp, the manager of Lakewood Vineyards in Watkins Glen. Mr. Stamp said he did lose some his grape varieties this year due to the freeze. He says more rain helped other varieties survive. “We’re still fighting through the year,” Stamp said. Wineries are being allowed to temporarily source their grapes from other states through the end of the year while maintaining their status as New York Wineries.

“It was bad. I certainly don’t remember seeing anything like it from my time as represenative or even as a staffer,” said State Rep. Phil Palmesano. Assemblyman Palmesano represents 5 counties that were declared as “natural disaster areas.” They are Chemung, Steuben, Schuyler, Tioga, Seneca and Yates. “It was certainly a significant, negative impact. It’s something that we want to provide any assistance possible that we could. These farm wineries, these operations that grow grapes or apples or whatever it may be, they contribute a significant economic benefit to our region. I believe some estimates say over 6 billion dollars annually”.

Farmers in 31 New York Counties can apply for federal low-interest emergency loans of up to $500,000. Earlier this month, the U.S Department of Agriculture declared those counties to be Primary Disaster Areas. An additional 24 counties that include other states were declared to be Contiguous Disaster Counties.

This is the full breakdown of disaster declarations and deadlines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Impacted Area: New York

Triggering Disaster: Freeze & Frost

Application Deadline: 4/17/2024

Primary Counties Eligible: Albany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Columbia, Cortland, Dutchess, Greene, Jefferson, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Otsego, Putnam, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Washington, Wayne, Westchester, Yates 

Contiguous Counties Also Eligible:

New York: Allegany, Bronx, Chenango, Delaware, Erie, Essex, Fulton, Genesee, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Montgomery, Nassau, Niagara, Oneida, Orange, Rockland, St. Lawrence, Sullivan, Warren, Wyoming 

Connecticut: Fairfield, Litchfield                        

Massachusetts: Berkshire                                       

New Jersey: Bergen                                           

Pennsylvania: Bradford, Erie, McKean, Potter, Susquehanna, Tioga, Warren, Wayne       

Vermont: Addison, Bennington, Rutland           

Triggering Disaster 2: Freeze & Frost

Application Deadline: 3/11/2024

Primary Counties Eligible:

Massachusetts: Berkshire, Bristol, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Worcester

Contiguous Counties Also Eligible:

Connecticut: Hartford, Litchfield, Tolland, Windham             

Massachusetts: Barnstable, Dukes, Suffolk                                  

New Hampshire: Cheshire, Hillsborough, Rockingham                       

New York: Columbia, Dutchess, Rensselaer                         

Rhode Island: Bristol, Newport, Providence                        

Vermont: Bennington, Windhan

More Resources

On, the Disaster Assistance Discovery ToolDisaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Loan Assistance Tool can help you determine program or loan options. To file a Notice of Loss or to ask questions about available programs, contact your local  USDA Service Center.