Last weekís rain benefited NC apple crop

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

HENDERSONVILLE (AP) ó Farmers say last weekís rain from remnants of Tropical Storm Fay helped western North Carolina apple orchards and other crops recover from a dry summer.
Adam Pryor said Tuesday his Henderson County farm already received 6 to 7 inches of rain and standing water this week means even more water for his trees. The county is the stateís largest apple producer with 150 growers and more than 6,000 acres of orchards.
Pryor, who also is president of the Blue Ridge Apple Growers Association, said the rain helped apples grow larger on the trees. And larger apples bring higher prices.
ěJust a few days after the rain, you could tell the apples just look different,î said Pryor, whose family grows 100 acres of apples and 600 acres of corn on their Edneyville farm.
Apple growers also said they had a good business last weekend at the North Carolina Apple Festival in Hendersonville.
ěWe sold a lot of apples, a lot more than normal,î said Wade Edney, who owns Piney Mountain Orchards.
An extension agent said farmers are concerned about the path of Tropical Storm Hanna, which is expected to cross North Carolina later in the week.
Marvin Owings said the farmers want more rain but donít want winds that could damage their trees.
Another state agriculture specialist said the rain could allow a second cutting of hay so cattle farmers will have more winter feed for their herds.
Bill Yarborough, a state agriculture agronomist, said the benefit to crops and cattle from the rain could top $1 million.
ěA lot of hay they were having to use was the hay they had put up early to feed animals through the winter,î Yarborough said. ěAnd groundwater reserves are still low. This is taking some of the pressure off, but weíre still not out of the woods by any stretch.