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‘Normal’ Winter Means A Better Apple Crop

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This winter certainly feels more like winter than last and that has growers of one of our favorite fruits very happy.

Last year’s apple crop was one of the worst on record, and the warm winter played a big part.

Farmers are hoping “normal” means better.

Work has already started at Minnesota Harvest in Jordan, Minn.

“We have about 43,000 trees that need pruning over the winter,” Kevin Breeggemann said.

There’s a narrow window to get trees trimmed.

It needs to happen while the tree is dormant, before it buds.

“If we don’t prune them,” Breeggemann said. “We end up with smaller apples.”

That’s why the frigid landscape of the past few weeks looks great.

“Last year was just a super terrible year,” Breeggemann said. “We had a super early Spring, trees budded out in March, then we had frost.”

The frost wiped out some local farms.

Then came large rains in May and June, hail in July and drought in August and September.

“Everybody was trying everything they could,” Breeggemann said. “There were some orchards that lost 95 percent of their crop.”

Now, with a normal winter, Breeggemann is hoping he won’t have to rely on luck.

“Hopefully we won’t get too much warm weather too early, some normal rain would also be nice,” Breeggemann said.

To ensure a better crop in 2013.

While the rest of us are hoping for warmer temperatures, growers say they want trees to stay cold and dormant through April.

Then they get past any hard frost potential, which kills buds and their chances at a good growing season.

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