On one hand, Judy Dimock doesn’t mind lots of snow, which protects the budding trees at her Madison apple farm.

On the other, the deep snow cover is making it hard to get to the trees.

“We appreciate having the snow cover,” but “we’ve had enough” snow, “don’t get me wrong,” she said.

“It’s making pruning very difficult,” said Dimock, who co-owns North Star Orchards.

It’s been a colder and snowier winter than normal in Maine. For example, Augusta’s average temperature through February was six degrees below normal and the city saw nearly 85 inches of snow, more than 30 inches above its normal total, according to a state weather commission. Now, there’s more than two feet of snow still on the ground in most of Maine.

But that’s good for apples, said Renae Moran, an expert with the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension, who said she’s “optimistic” about this season, which typically lasts from August through October.

In 2014, Maine produced 26.1 million pounds of apples, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which said the crop was worth nearly $13 million the year before.

Moran said this year, snow cover hasn’t been deep enough to be an issue for apple trees across Maine, and temperatures have remained stable and freezing without often reaching dangerously low levels — 25 degrees below zero or less — that could harm trees.

Plus forecasts are predicting that temperatures will rise only slightly over the next two weeks, not bringing early warmth that Moran said can “wreak havoc” on trees.

“I think that spring is going to get off to a slow start, and that’s good for apple trees,” she said. “Farmers don’t like to see it warm up until late April or early May, just so the bloom happens at the right time.”

But Moran warned that the deep snow could crust in spring, breaking off low-hanging branches and hurting trees. It “could be bad,” she said, but it’s too early to tell.

At Pleasant Pond Orchards in Richmond, co-owner Larry Donahue said he hadn’t been out to see the trees in a week or so since it’s hard to get there, but he didn’t expect the winter to have much of an impact.

“I think it’ll be a good year,” he said.

Things were looking up at Applewald Farm in Litchfield on Thursday, where Tom Fair went out to the orchard on a snowmobile and snowshoes to trim branches on his family’s trees. The family farm sells produce and fruit at its roadside farmstand.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme


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