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Yakima Valley, Washington

Cold snap & early bloom a concern for U.S. stone fruit growers

Whereas the cold snap earlier this week was posing no real danger to the apple orchards of Yakima Valley, some stone fruit may have been at risk. The weather prompted some growers to turn on wind machines and heaters to keep buds from freezing. An industry representative said it will take a couple of weeks to determine the extent of any damage caused by the cold weather and whether there is going to be an early crop this year.

Near-freezing temperatures followed spring-like weather that triggered some stone fruits -such as apricots- to start budding early, putting them at risk. Tim Kovis, communications manager for the Washington State Tree Fruit Association, said it is one of the earliest blooms since 2005.

However, the Yakima Herald reports that apples, pears and some of the other tree fruits are safe, as they have not yet begun to blossom. Growers say those crops can still handle a few frigid nights right now. Also, the worst of the recent cold weather should be past, as overnight temperatures are forecast to start bouncing back.

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