Edgar apple orchard installs 'Frost Fan' to help protect spring blossom

Apple at Rock Ridge Orchard in Edgar 11/8/19 (WSAW photo)

EDGAR, Wis. (WSAW) -- Mother Nature can be brutal in Wisconsin, especially to farmers trying to harvest their crops. While the fall harvest season is just wrapping up for many farmers, Rock Ridge Orchard owners Daniel and Julie Knetter are already focused on their spring apple blossom, and how to protect it from the cold temperatures.

“In the past years we’ve lost an entire crop,” said Daniel. “We’ve had years where we’ve lost partial crops, and we’ve had years where the blossoms will set fruit, but just because the blossoms set fruit doesn’t mean it has the right quality.”

With the central Wisconsin weather so unpredictable during the spring months, the Knetters decided to take fate into their own hands, having a Frost Fan installed to help warm their 10-acres of orchard on nights where there is a threat of frost.

“What it will do is draw down the warm air from above and bring it down and bring the temperature up about 2 to 5 degrees to help save the blossoms,” said Daniel.

The Knetters believe their orchard is the first to have a fan installed in central Wisconsin, an investment that Julie says is not only important to their business, but the local community.

“It’s about the 22 schools that we provide Farm to School programs to,” said Julie. “It’s so important that we get our children the fruits and vegetables that are local to them.”

An investment in the future that the Edgar orchard’s owners are confident in making.

“If you lose your crop, it’s like getting up and going to work every morning and not getting a pay check,” said Daniel. “The machine, basically, if it saves one crop it pays for itself.”