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Cold snap should help, not harm, apple crop

A first day of spring snow made for a pretty sight. A first day of spring snow made for a pretty sight.

Lows in the 20s through Friday will probably help — and not hurt — the 2013 apple crop, growers say.

A surprise snowfall left the area covered in white on Thursday morning and the accompanying cold front ushered in a week of cool daytime temperatures and overnight lows in the 20s. The cold snap will act to halt what historically has been a risky march to maturity for apple buds, when they open early only to be zapped by a spring frost or freeze.

The forecast from the National Weather Service called for highs in the 40s through Wednesday and overnight lows in the high 20s until Friday. Good Friday should be sunny with a high of 54 and Saturday partly sunny with the same high.Yellowbells, daffodils and pear trees wore a fluffy coat of white for the first day of spring.

"The apples are OK right now," said Dana grower Tony Hill, who has about 250 acres of orchards in Henderson and Polk counties. "I had some down in Polk County that were starting to show some green and I was going to have start spraying but this will delay them. This little cold spell is actually good for 'em. It'll hold 'em back for a little while."

Overnight lows in the 20s won't harm the crop, he said.
"The buds are still tight enough so it won't hurt 'em yet," he said. "Everything's going kind of like it's supposed to right now. I read in the paper this morning it's supposed to get in the 20s even through Monday. Really all that's a good thing because it'll hold 'em for a week and then maybe when it warms up it'll stay warm."
Last year this time, an even warmer winter had coaxed apple buds to a vulnerable stage when a mid-April cold snap plunged temperatures into the teens. The three-night freeze wiped out most of the 2012 crop.