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WEATHER CHALLENGES LOCAL NC APPLE GROWERS

Excerpted from an article by Leah Buletti for the Asheville Citizen-Times

HENDERSONVILLE…”It’s been a year marked by extremes for Henderson County apple growers, starting with an early freeze in the spring and ending in prolonged rain earlier this month.

It seems that all of the extremes that (can) happen, we’ve had in one year,” said Adam Pryor, who is the fourth generation at Hilltop Farm, which grows apples and other crops for wholesale.  The season started out with back-to-back weekends in April with frost and freeze that reduced the crop, as well as rain during full bloom, which affected the pollination and fertilization of fruit, said Marvin Owings, Henderson County Extension director.

Later in the season, there was scatted hail, followed by an extremely dry summer that resulted in a severe drought in Henderson and most other mountain counties.  Then, the end of September and early October were marked by almost two weeks of heavy rain.  Growers were trying to harvest reds, goldens and Romes, but some orchards and growers weren’t able to harvest because of the rain, missing the harvest window for certain varieties – and so fruit dropped in the high winds, or over-mature fruit had to go for juice.

This week’s sunny skies may have put one positive cap on the season.  Growers were able to start winding down their harvests and pick the latest maturing varieties…Pink Ladies.  Direct marketing is flourishing as leaf-peekers flood into the area.

Henderson County has about 250 apple growers, and about 85% of the apples grown in NC come from the counties’ trees…”

SOURCE:  Leah Buletti/Asheville Citizen-Times

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