In the past few months, we’ve looked at a couple of instances where bad weather had a big impact on businesses. While luxury picnic planners kept a close watch on forecasts to avoid rainouts, harsh conditions in Europe devastated the harvests of olive oil producers, leading to price increases. Of course, event planning and commercial agriculture aren’t the only industries affected by bad weather. In fact, this autumn has been disastrous for one of the season’s most wholesome enterprises: apple picking farms.
In upstate New York, for example, this apple-picking epicenter has enjoyed warm temperatures during the week only to be inundated with rain by Friday. At the 175 acre farm Barton Orchards, owner Peter Barton has invested millions of dollars into the business since converting his family’s land into a pick-your-own venture in the 1990s. On a busy fall weekend, his property hosts as many as 10,000 visitors who fill their bags full of Galas and Granny Smiths, or perhaps wander through the corn maze or watch the pig races. That hasn’t been the case in 2023, however, as the farm dealt with rain for more than eight weekends straight. “It’s absolutely, absolutely unheard-of,” said Barton.
According to recent meteorological data, the Hudson Valley Region has experienced rainfall at rates that are 33 percent above normal. Still, these numbers don’t tell the full story, which is that the rainy days have disproportionately fallen on weekends. Although apple orchards stay open rain or shine, customers overwhelmingly prefer to go picking when it’s nice outside. Barton estimates that poorly timed precipitation has caused his company’s sales to fall by as much as 30 percent this year. As a result, he and other farmers have so much fruit left on their trees that they plan to stay open well into November rather than closing down at the end of October like usual. “Picking apples is an amazing family event, and we’re still on the low-end, cost-wise, for entertainment,” Barton said. “We have a business that’s almost recession-proof. Unfortunately, it’s not weatherproof.”
- How has bad weather affected apple picking businesses like Barton Orchards? Why are rainy weekends especially bad for the industry?
- Do you think apple picking farms will be able to keep customers coming in through November? Why or why not?