• Torrential rain damages local apple orchards

    By: John Ahrens


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A fall tradition is taking a serious hit this year. This summer's torrential rain severely damaged many local apple orchards. With demand high, farmers are struggling to give families any apples to pick at all.

    Severe Weather Center 9 found out your chance to enjoy the fruit may run out quickly.

    Wendy Blanchard would not think of missing out on a fall pastime.

    "We like to buy some, and cook with them, making some apple bread – just associated with fall," said Blanchard.

    "It just makes fall seem more real to me," said Judy Frenrich.

    Making fall seem real is Matthew Gusmer's job at Windy Hill Orchard, but whether it is making the cider, the pies or smiles, he has not had a lot to work with.

    Matthew took Severe Weather Center 9 through his orchard to show the effects from the summer's historic rain. Some apples were bruised, others warped and rotted out.

    Severe Weather Center 9 found piles of apples rejected by pickers and left to rot on the ground.

    The excessive moisture got inside the center of the apple and then split it in half. It actually wiped out 15 percent of the crop alone.

    "The ground is soaking wet and trees are loaded with 100 pounds of apples. We have had some topple over," said Gusmer.

    Gusmer said they have been able to overcome most of the challenges of the waterlogged summer, but the best of his harvest is all but gone – that is weeks before he usually wraps things up.

    "The rain started out as a good thing, but then watching the forecast it just would not stop," he said.

    The weather issues are far from over. Now the Charlotte area is looking toward frost and freezing temperatures later this week. Apple farmers are working to do everything they can to protect what little they have.

    It has been a tough stretch for apple farmers. Many said last year it was even worse with the freezing temperatures. North Carolina is one of the top apple producers in the country.

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