SUNY ESF professor: spring-like weather could be dangerous for crops

SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - While many are welcoming the warmer spring-like weather Central New York has been experiencing, a SUNY ESF professor says the change is already affecting local crops.

“Yeah, you may save some bucks on heating. But you also may have to get your apples from Washington State,” Donald Leopold, a forest and wetland ecology professor at the school said.

He says sugar maple trees have already started budding. That process typically isn’t supposed to start until the third week of March.

“To the extent that their buds are expanding, [sugar maples] are way ahead of where they normally are this time of year,” Leopold said.

For crops that are not native to New York State, the warmer weather could wipe them out entirely.

Last year, apple crops were about 40 to 60 percent less than what was expected.

“The consequences are beyond the idea that it’s just warming and that’s great because it will be more comfortable here,” Leopold said. “It’s not going to be great when we have to figure out what crops to grow instead of the ones that are well adapted to Central New York.”

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