Agriculture/Farming and Energy & Environment and Environment

Warmer-than-usual winter could ruin state's fruit crops

February 17, 2012

Warm winter weather could be putting the state's fruit crop at risk.

Purdue University Extension fruit specialists say ongoing mild temperatures may make some plants blossom the next time the state sees a stretch of temperatures above 50 degrees. The warm weather tricks the plant into thinking it's spring. If there's a frost afterwards that kills flower buds, the plants can't recover. Farmers can't do anything to protect the plants if this happens.

That could ruin the state's profitable blueberry and apple crops, which bring in more than $13 million each year. It could also hurt Indiana's growing wine-grape industry.

Fruit specialist Bruce Bordelon says he hopes the last five weeks of winter stay cold enough to protect plants.

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