Delaware Orchard Pioneers Frost-Fighting Wind Turbines

Delaware Orchard Pioneers Frost-Fighting Wind Turbines

Facing increasing unpredictability in Delaware’s weather, Henry Bennett of the historic Bennett Orchards sought innovative solutions to protect his farm’s delicate spring peach blossoms from frost. These blossoms, which bloom earlier than most, are particularly susceptible to frost damage.

Traditionally, orchards would employ helicopters to circulate air and stave off frost. However, these methods, as Bennett pointed out, are not only costly but also often unavailable and logistically challenging.

Taking a modern approach, Bennett Orchards set up propane-powered wind turbines to safeguard their crops against spring freezes. These turbines mix warmer upper air with cooler air near the ground, elevating temperatures by approximately 6 degrees. This method can shield around 10 acres of orchard per turbine.

“Not only are we the sole farm in Delaware that depends entirely on perennial fruit yields, but we are also proud to introduce this innovative technology to the Delmarva region,” Bennett remarked. While such technology is somewhat new to Delaware, it has been deployed successfully in apple and cherry orchards in Washington and Michigan.

Through a grant from the Delaware Council on Farm & Food Policy, Bennett Orchards will share their turbine findings with the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Service and other regional farms. This collaboration aims to bolster local food supply chains and determine the effectiveness and economic feasibility of the turbines for area farmers.

Bennett emphasized the ever-changing nature of current weather patterns, with warm spells tricking trees into early blooms, only to be followed by frost, posing a significant risk to yields. The introduction of these propane-powered turbines was implemented in order to combat such unpredictabilities and ensure consistent, high-quality fruit production.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *