Winter storm Stella provides relief to Pa. apple crop

Written by David Payne/Radio Pennsylvania | Mar 20, 2017 7:46 AM

FILE PHOTO: Workers inspect and sort golden delicious apples for packing at Rice Fruit Company in Gardners, Adams County. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(State College) -- The recent wintry weather may have saved much of this year's apple crop in central Pennsylvania.

Prior to last week's snowstorm this winter had been relatively mild, with February one of the warmest on record.

Penn State Horticulture Professor Richard Marini says the mild weather resulted in an early apple bloom in some areas.

"Every day you bloom early, it increases the likelihood of spring frost," he says. "If the trees are in bloom during frost, it could kill the blossoms."

He notes the snow followed by cold temperatures came just in time.

"It's good that it got cold, because during the last week it 's been cold and the buds probably haven't developed at all," he says. "They've just about stopped developing because of the cold weather."

Marini is hoping for seasonable temperatures as we approach spring, giving apple crops a more suitable climate in which to bloom.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture ranks Pennsylvania fourth in the nation in apple production.

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