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Certain crops could be put into jeopardy by pending freezing temperatures

By HILARY LANE

WESTMORELAND, N.Y. (WKTV) - New York State farmers harvest 12 percent of all the apple crop across the country, but Monday night's freezing temperatures could put local produce in jeopardy.

"So you have all of these agricultural plants from apples to peaches to blueberries that are in a vulnerable state right now, because we had that early warm weather and they are actually further ahead than they should be this time of year," said Jeff Miller, educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Crops in this area are developing about three weeks ahead of schedule, and the freezing temperatures could cause serious problems for produce growing on local farms.

"The biggest concern is losing the crop," said George Joseph, Owner of North Star Farms in Westmoreland. "A freeze like this will actually burn the blossom, which burns the fruit set and you have no apples."

The problems for farmers stretch far beyond not having apples to harvest.

"Because we are such an onsite entertainment and we do U-pick apples, if we don't have as many people picking apples, then they aren't coming to the store as often and it is a trickle down," said Joseph.

That trickle-down effect could have a big impact on Joseph's business and the business of farmers across the county who bring in $1.5 million annually.

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