03/08/2013 10:44 EST | Updated 05/08/2013 05:12 EDT

Ontario apple growers look to overcome $114M loss

Ontario apple farmers will attempt to bounce back from a disastrous 2012.

A year ago, farmers dealt with record-high temperatures in March, which led to their crop budding much earlier than normal. A flash frost destroyed nearly 90 per cent of the provincial crop when temperatures returned to normal, according to the Ontario Apple Growers Association.

The freak weather eventually cost the industry $114 million.

This year, Keith Wright of Harrow, Ont., is much more optimistic and pleased with the weather.

"I'm very relieved much to the chagrin of the golfers and people who want to wear shorts and T-shirts in the city and in the towns," he said. "Here in [Essex] Country I hope there's little activity over the next month."

Wright estimates last year's weather cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Ottawa and Ontario together in January announced $2 million in relief. It works out to a few thousands dollars per farmer. Not enough compared to all of the damage that was done, Wright said.

"This industry suffered a severe loss that has never been seen before and so if that becomes normal, we better be prepared than what we are now with financial farm programs," he said.

There is another estimated $74 million that will be paid out through business risk management programs, including

Production Insurance, AgriStability and Ontario's Self-Directed Risk Management program. But that's not available to all.

Some growers had to rely on crop insurance, if they had any. Even that isn't enough, according to grower Doug Balsillie, who lost his entire crop in Harrow.

"A complete loss, with crop insurance, paid us out about 30 per cent of the value of the crop," he said.

Wright didn't have crop insurance. He does now, despite this year's more typical temperatures.

"I bit the bullet and bought into the crop insurance plan," he said.