Bedford County, Pennsylvania
Mark Boyer is a second-generation co-owner of Ridgetop Orchards LLC, a grower-packer-shipper operation in Bedford county, Pa. The orchard grows 450 acres of apples, 18 acres of “U-Pick” cherries and eight acres of peaches.
“We started crop insurance in 2015 because we were tired of the volatile springs,” Mark remembers. “February might be 70 degrees for a few days, followed by a cold shot. It’s hard on the fruit trees.”
In recent years, the orchard also experienced several severe weather events. “We had a hail event in 2012, three weeks before harvest,” says Mark. “It devastated anything with value.”
In 2013, a heavy frost reduced orchard production by 50% and remaining fruit was misshaped.
While 2014 and 2015 had no major weather events, a hail storm impacted every inch of the orchard in 2016.
“If you have a weather event that triggers insurance payment, it helps pay the labor expenses associated with picking the hail-damaged fruit off the trees,” Mark explains. “For us, crop insurance mitigates those extra labor expenses.”
Despite the unpredictable weather, crop insurance helps Mark manage his business risk.
“We have to keep farming. We can’t just stop,” he says. “Right now, we can’t operate without crop insurance.”