Planting finally underway; orchard growers hoping for best

Posted at 5:23 PM, May 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 08:21:40-04

Due to extreme weather, several orchards in the Treasure Valley are facing challenges. Many managers are busy keeping up on mildew control and closely observing the vines' health.

Some vines were in such bad shape that they had to be cut down to the ground. The only exception is vineyards located on hilltops where the plants were more protected by the deep freezes.

Still, experts say grapes tend to grow like weeds.

Thanks to their red and white wine inventory and crop insurance, one orchard grower in Caldwell is staying positive even though growth is over a week behind. He is hoping the plants will be up to full production again next year.

"We're seeing they're salvageable. The crop on those though is still going to be way down," says Michael Williamson, one of the vineyard managers at Williamson Orchards & Vineyards. "We're estimating with what we're seeing there... I think we'll be lucky to be at 50 percent of a normal crop on even the ones that kind of made it."

Many farmers are behind their usual planting schedule. Some are still in the planting process, which is a delay by about two months. They're crossing their fingers right now for enough heat to grow strong yields.