Cold hitting local apple crops hard - FOX Carolina 21

Cold hitting NC apple crops hard

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Apples beginning to bloom at a Henderson County orchard. (April 21, 2012/FOX Carolina) Apples beginning to bloom at a Henderson County orchard. (April 21, 2012/FOX Carolina)

In a normal year, Adam Pryor would be just waiting for business to bloom.

"Normally, over our crop, we have about 110 acres, I'd like to see 100,000 bushels of apples," he says.

But this year, the only apples they're seeing near these orchards are painted on signs.  The early spring-like weather made everything bloom up, but with the recent chill, it's stopped a lot of apple production in western North Carolina dead in its tracks.

Pryor says, "They would've just now started to bloom. Whereas this year, everything was early spring, the trees have already bloomed, the fruit had set, small apples were there and we had those mid-20s and upper 20s temperatures last week.  It was just more than they could handle."

Pryor showed us the damage to his crop. The cold hit at what was the most vulnerable time for the apples, and their trees.

"This is what the majority of the crop is going to be," Pryor says, holding up what remains of a stem, and a small seed inside.  "That's as big as that apple will get."

Pryor is a fourth-generation apple farmer. He's also head of the Blue Ridge Apple Growers Association, which extends across most of western North Carolina.  

His story is like many others who say the warmth hit too soon.  Now, they're feeling the biting cold.

"I'd say 80 percent of it has been damaged to the point where there will be little, if any, fruit at all," Pryor says. Adding, "People that have been growing apples for 30 to 40 years say that they don't recall anything quite this bad. It was just a combination of the early Spring, and the temperatures, and the growth stage. This is a really big hit, and one we haven't seen in quite some time."

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