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Possible Freeze Could Be Devastating For MN Fruit Growers

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(credit: CBS) Matt Brickman
Matt Brickman is the co-host of WCCO-TV Saturday Morni...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The sun is shining, the trees are blooming. It’s the kind of day most Minnesotans dream about — everybody except people like Mike Dekarski, general manager at Apple Jack Orchards in Delano, Minn.

He’s worried that the forecasted freezing temps will ruin plums that are already in bloom. His biggest concern, however, is his biggest crop: apples.

WCCO-TV visited the orchard last fall, during its best harvest ever. But now, with everything blooming about a month ahead of schedule, he’s checking the weather forecast in his pocket, and the data monitor in the field, worried about a freeze hitting after the buds start to open.

“Chestnut Crabs, they bloom really early,” Dekarski said. “And Zestar bloom really early. Those are the two (varieties) that I’m worried about.”

If those apples start to flower, then freeze, they’ll be ruined. The rest of the apples seem safe, for now. Honeycrisp, Sweet Tango and Haralsons all bloom later.

Dekarski isn’t taking any chances. He’s spraying his trees with a potassium mixture to protect them from the freeze.

“It’s a fertilizer and it helps harden the plant a little bit,” he said. “Experience shows it works down to about 28 degrees.”

For backyard trees, Dekarski says you can cover them or even try running the sprinkler all night long, which works because the sprinkler water is about 50 degrees.

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