Stow Apple Farm puts ‘sunscreen’ on crops amid drought and intense heat

STOW, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) – With the ongoing drought encouraging outdoor watering bans across the state, Stow’s apples are starting to feel the burn…literally.

Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow has a plethora of healthy fruit despite the drought, but their biggest problem is sunburned apples.

“[It] has nothing to do with the drought, it’s just because of the heat, so we put sunscreen on the apples to keep them from getting burned,” general manager Chelsea Martin told WBZ’s Kim Tunnicliffe.

Workers coated the apples with a copper-based protective spray, similar to sunscreen, to shield them from the glare of the sun.

According to Washington State University’s Comprehensive Tree Fruit Site, apple sunscreen is very effective in preventing sunburn and is not washed off by rain or irrigation.

While the drought caused major problems for farmers, Honey Pot Hill attributes the health of its apples to its advanced irrigation system.

“We have several irrigation ponds on the property, we’re pretty lucky that way. My grandfather got a grant in the 1950s to dig, [but] you can’t do this anymore,” Martin said.

Read more: Tunes Over Tobacco: Berklee Boston students compose musical remedies

Other orchards weren’t so lucky, as drought prevented some apples from reaching their full potential. Some farmers in the community say they fear the season will also be cut short due to lack of rain.

Another problem that apple growers have faced are new apple diseases that come with the dry climate.

“There are fungi that we just don’t have here that actually thrive in drier conditions,” Martin said.

Although the heat has affected the apples on the farm, Honey Pot Hill says their peaches are thriving in these conditions. The constant sun allows the peaches to end up with a milder flavor.

WBZ’s Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports.

Comments are closed.