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Below Average Apple Crop Could Lead To Higher Prices


California's apple harvest is ending three weeks earlier than usual. The California Apple Commission predicts this year's crop will be about 8 to 10 percent below normal. Farmers blame the weather.

Jim Rider strolls through his Honeycrisp apple orchard in Watsonville's Pajaro Valley.  

"We've got probably the worst crop in the history of the valley."

Rider's been growing apples for more than 40 years. He inspects a tree with bare limbs.

"There's probably 10 or 12 apples on the tree, but it should have a hundred."

He says it didn't get cold enough long enough this winter for the crop to survive. Apples require the most chilling hours of all tree fruits. Without enough exposure to cold, apple trees don't flower or fruit properly.

"Some of those blocks certainly don't have many apples on them this year, and may not have apples next year either."

Just down the road Nita Gizdich also worries about the future of her apple trees on Gizdich Ranch.

"Look at how tiny those apples are. Tiny, tiny tiny little apples."

She says unusually hot days in March -- around 90 degrees -- wilted sensitive blossoms.

"We've never ever been that warm."

Hot weather plagued both Washington and Oregon as well. The United States Department of Agriculture predicts the nations' apple crop will be about 11 percent below last year.

That could lead to higher prices at the grocery store.