Drought impacts local orchard

Extreme drought conditions are leading to dwindling water supplies at Schweizer Orchards in St. Joseph.

Posted: Jul 30, 2018 4:47 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Extreme drought conditions are leading to dwindling water supplies at Schweizer Orchards in St. Joseph. 

For most of the summer, the apple orchard has been relying on irrigation systems to keep their crops alive. So far, it has led to nice yields of peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, and other vegetables but the water is not an infinite source. 

The water used for crops has been coming from wells and ponds on the property but as this year's drought has continued to get worse, water levels have continued to drop. And now, growers at the orchard are worried about running out of water.

Cory Schweizer, CEO of Schweizer Orchards, has been watching water levels fall and says that this year's levels are the lowest that he has ever seen. Schweizer believes this year's dry weather will likely not only impact this year's crop but may impact next year's as well. 

"We are just trying to keep things alive right now." Schweizer said. "It not only hurts the crop we have right now but also the buds for next year on apple trees alone are set in July. And so, being a dry stressful year, we are kind of worried what the actual bud count will be on there for next year for apples."

While next year's apple yield is still up in the air, Schweizer says this year's will likely be alright. The only impact will be on the size of the apples, which may be smaller than in normal years. 

Schweizer Orchards has been in operation since the early 1900s and is located at 5455 SE State Route FF in St. Joseph. The orchard is open Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Sunday 1:00-5:00 p.m. 

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