Iowa apple crop likely to come up very short this year - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa apple crop likely to come up very short this year

Posted:
Iowa will likely see a major shortage in its apple crop this year Iowa will likely see a major shortage in its apple crop this year
DUBUQUE COUNTY (KWWL) -

Iowa will likely see a huge shortage in its apple crop this fall. The biggest hit to this fruit came not from the ongoing drought, however, but from devastating frosts and freezes in April.

At Bluebell Orchard in Dubuque County, Pete Henkels is one of Iowa's lucky apple growers. The frosts of April killed only about 15 percent of his crop, and apple growing isn't his main source of income.

"It's kind of a sideline. A hobby. I always say, a hobby out of control," Henkels said.

However, Iowa State Extension Office fruit expert Patrick O'Malley said Wednesday he estimates 80 percent of apple growers throughout the state lost 80 percent or more of their crop to the frosts of April.

These drought conditions now are making a bad situation worse.

"The trees are in stress, and I'm concerned about it affecting them next year, for the bud set for next year," Henkels said, "and the apples are small and I don't think they'll size up like they normally would because of the stress on the trees."

This month, the United States Department of Agriculture designated more than 40 Iowa counties natural disaster areas for the severe frosts and freezes of April. Farmers and growers in these counties qualify for natural disaster assistance to cover losses through low-interest loans.

It remains unseen, however, how many growers will take the USDA up on its offer.

"I'd say maybe in other parts of the state they will, yeah, because they lost their crop, basically," Henkels said.

O'Malley said, in eastern Iowa, the frosts were especially harmful for apple growers south of Waterloo.

Those having a bad year might have to supplement their crop this fall with apples from out of state.

To see which counties qualify for aid through the USDA, click HERE.

Powered by Frankly