The Associated Press

ERWIN, Tenn. (AP) -- Apple growers in northeast Tennessee say last week's frosts may have damaged their crops.

Unicoi County University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension agent Ty Petty told the Johnson City Press (http://bit.ly/IW2Zkp) that the freeze could not have come at a worse time. The crop is ahead of schedule because of the unseasonably warm weather and a majority of the county's apple trees are in bloom.

It may be several days before area apple growers see the full extent of the damage.

David Moore, who owns Heavenly Holler Farm in the Flag Pond area, said he is keeping an eye on the trees' flowers to see if they begin to turn black and drop off. He said around one-third of the apple trees in his orchard were in the middle of the bloom when the freeze came.

Michael Willis, who owns Willis Orchard in the Coffee Ridge area, described last week's frost as a "killer freeze."

Most of Willis' trees were in full bloom as morning temperatures dropped to around 25 degrees.

"It may have got half, it may have got three-quarters, it may have got all of them," he said. "That's about as hard a freeze as I've saw."

UT's Petty said as long as some of the flowers are not damaged or some of the fruit has already made it through the blooming period there can still be a pretty good crop. An apple tree usually can produce a full crop on around 10 percent of its bloom.

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Information from: Johnson City Press, http://www.johnsoncitypress.com

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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