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Minnesota Apple Farmer’s Crop Wiped Out By Frost

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Susie Jones Susie Jones
Susie Jones has been with WCCO Radio since 1996. She started as a...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It was the frigid Tuesday and Wednesday morning temps that have apple lovers the most concerned.

Mike Perbix, owner of Sweetland Orchard in Webster, Minn., says he might not have anything to sell this season — and he may not be alone.

“The fruit is actually kind of tucked back in here and if you open it up, you’ll see that inside here, where it should be green, is all brown,” said Perbix.

Perbix says more than 90 percent of his apple blossoms were frozen, which mean these buds will never become apples. He said even if one percent makes it, they will still have enough to have it open this fall on weekends.

“This is pretty much a freakish thing. What would be more normal is to have a late frost right around Mother’s Day,” he said.

Still, they are losing about $30,000 in revenue.

“We assess our loss, and work the finances and kind of tighten our belts,” said Perbix. “It’s like being in shock. Mother Nature laid me off for the year.”

The Minnesota Apple Growers Association says it will be another 10 days before they have a feel for the state-wide apple crop, but a representative says it doesn’t look good.

Now, growers will watch how bees react to the buds as the weather warms up again.

The bees would be the first indication that some of the blossoms made it.

“They’re not going to bloom again. The buds for the blossoms formed last year and so the trees put all its energy into that blossom, and it bloomed, and now the reproductive parts of the flower have died, so we won’t get blossoms again until next year,” said Gretchen Perbix.

Apples or no apples, the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market has a soft season opener next Saturday, which is a sure sign that summer is almost here.

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