After Dorian, N.S. farmers grapple with thousands of dollars in losses

Dorian's path of destruction through Nova Scotia brought widespread damage to some farms in the province, flattening crops and blowing fruit from trees.

Brian Boates, who runs Boates Farm in the Annapolis Valley, said up to 50 per cent of his apple crop "is on the ground now," and another 20 percent that's still on the trees is "wind-bruised."

"In other words, the apples blew so hard against each other that they bruised or got dented from the limbs," he said. "So it's kind of a mess."

Tens of thousands of home and businesses were still without power in Nova Scotia as of Monday afternoon, after the storm's torrential rain and hurricane-force winds toppled trees and downed power lines over the weekend.

Annapolis Valley farmer Greg Gerrits said well before Dorian hit it was clear the storm would have an impact on his farm.

Gerrits, who owns Elmridge Farm, said the pre-emptive closure of shops and farmers markets made a roughly $30,000 dent in his farm's revenue.

"The damage was already done when the forecast came out," he said. "We sell into independent retailers, and immediately they were going to have a bad weekend, so our sales dropped dramatically, and then we lost the majority of our farmers market sales."

Submitted by Brian Boates

On top of that loss, Gerrits said the most obvious impact was to the crop of sweet corn, which was flattened by the storm and "is now about six inches tall." That damage could cost another $50,000, Gerrits said. 

Other crops, such as beans and broccoli, were also affected, but Gerrits said it's too soon to say how bad the damage was. With the return of better weather, he hopes they can be salvaged

"We need a little bit more heat to bring those plants around, and hopefully they'll recover." 

'Another very trying year'

For Boates, the damage from Dorian comes on the heels of a bad season in 2018, when a hard frost in spring resulted in the loss of 90 percent of his crop.

Boates said he'll once again be drawing on crop insurance to help cover some of his losses.  

He's also planning on using some of the apples that dropped on the ground for the vinegar the farm produces.

"It's kind of funny because my father, who's 88, took the lead this year in building a dropped [apples] picking-up machine," he said. "So I think it'll have to get finished quite quickly."

Even trying to make the best of it, though, Boates said Dorian has definitely dealt a blow. 

"It's going to be another very trying year for us."