USDA says state's apple production lowest since 1945
MADISON Apple production in Wisconsin has dropped to its lowest level since 1945.
Apple production in 2012 was down 54 percent and yields decreased more than 3 tons per acre compared to the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The sharp reduction in production was the result of damaging weather. Early spring warmth caused apple trees to bloom prematurely. That was followed by a late spring freeze which caused frost damage. Then came a summer dry spell.
"When apple trees are hit with drought, they go into self-preservation mode. They either drop their fruit to preserve water to sustain the tree, or they produce smaller fruit," said Anna Maenner, executive director of the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association.
Wisconsin produced 23.6 million pounds of apples in 2012, compared to 51.4 million the previous year. Apple prices rose 29 percent from 2011 to 62.6 cents per pound.
Maenner said growers are counting on a better year in 2013.
"It's a little scary when these warm days come up like we've been having, but we haven't had a stretch yet like we had last year," she said. "We hope to keep those apple trees sleeping."
Apple production dropped 4 percent nationally, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.