Last year, North Carolina’s apple crop really struggled explains Dwayne Tate, Regional Agronomist in Region 12 in the western part of the state:
“This year was very different from last year with the very warm winter that we had, the crop was very premature, and then the frost around Easter really caused some damage. And then there were bands that received quite a bit of hail damage. So the crop was reduced last year.
Apples cycle in that if you‘ve had an off year, then they come back well. This year is setting up to be a very heavy bloom.”
And with that heavy bloom comes a little extra work says Tate:
“A lot of bloom means a lot of apples. And in a cluster of blooms there may be 4-5 blooms, but you really only need one in that cluster to make a good crop. This year will require some management of thinning the crop to the right amount of apples on the tree.”
Growers are not confident that the apple orchards are free of potential frost damage says Tate. As far as the stage of growth right now, Tate says growers are much more comfortable than last year:
“Things are setting up really well and they are much more comfortable with the state of growth this year.”
Last year’s crop was also reduced by a couple of hail events, which Tate explains that threat never really goes away:
“Unfortunately there is nothing you can do to protect against hail. It usually comes in bands and can affect one grower and not one just two miles away.”
Regional Agronomist with North Carolina Department of Agriculture Dwayne Tate.