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So far, growers surviving frost, punishing wind and torrential rain

Apple growers appear to have escaped major damage from frosty weather Friday night and the heavy rain and high winds Sunday night into early Monday morning, Henderson County's extension director said.


“I got reports as low as 25 but we don’t think it stayed there very long,” said Terry Kelley, director of the agriculture extension service. Growers reported “light frost damage, nothing that anybody seems too concerned about.”

Two days after the frost threat, thunderstorms packing high winds pummeled the area.
“Last night we had torrential rain and a lot of wind,” Kelley said. “Where were various reports on that, some limbs blown off, of course but probably not a major issue. There were some other trees down, of course which created an issue on farm roads and keeping them from getting into the fields.”
Kelley said he fears that mother’s nature triple battering of frost, wind and heavy rain has left apple trees vulnerable to fire blight, a bacteria that can kill the tree. It’s easier to prevent fire blight than it is to cut it out branch by branch once it infects leaves.
“All the weather we’ve had is kind of a perfect storm for fire blight,” he said. “On a younger tree in particular it can kill the whole tree.”
Growers would have already sprayed to protect from fire blight but with that spray washed off “they’ll want to go back in and get another spray on as quick as they could.”
Growers aren’t clear of the threat of frost, either. Forecasters predict lows of around 35 Wednesday night.
“Right now it doesn’t look like they’re calling for anything below freezing but we can still get some frost even at slightly above freezing,” Kelley said. “We still got a few more nights to get through. We’re not quite in the middle of April so we could potentially have some other events coming up. It’s just part of what we deal with. We’ve run the gamut this spring,” from highs in the 80s to frost to punishing thunderstorms and torrential downpours. “We’ve got some odd weather out there to contend with.”