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North Carolina apple growers take hit





CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Apple growers in North Carolina may have lost 80 percent of their crop this year.



The Charlotte Observer reported the combination of an early spring that prompted the trees to bloom and a late cold snap has devastated the crop in Henderson County, the state's top apple producer.



The state's apple crop is usually worth about $24 million.



"It's real spotty," said Peggy Laughter of the North Carolina Apple Growers Association. "We were froze out," losing 90 percent of her crop.



Some farmers are more fortunate, based on how the cold air moves through mountain valleys.



Dave Butler of Skytop Orchard near Flat Rock says he expects a full crop. Butler's trees are on top of a mountain and the cold air causes the most damage where it sinks into valleys.



Henderson County extension director Marvin Owings said the variable conditions make it difficult to calculate the losses. Official numbers are not expected until the end of the month.



Owings says there will be apples for the North Carolina Apple Festival in Hendersonville next week.



Most South Carolina apples appear to be in good shape.



Catherine Guzman at Windy Hill Orchard in York County plans to open for you-pick operations Saturday.



"The apples are early," Guzman said. "But we did OK. We didn't have a freeze."



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