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Local fruit trees ahead of schedule

Fruit may be ready earlier this year because of the warm winter.

April 09, 2012|Elizabeth Harrington | Reporter

DALEVILLE, Va. — Fruit may be ready earlier than expected this year.

Apple trees in Bedford County are already growing fruit.  Typically this time of year leaves would just be forming but the fruit is already visible on branches. It's about three weeks ahead of schedule.

Walter Gross and his family have about 100 acres of fruit trees on their orchard.  He's a fourth generation farmer and has never seen a year like this.

"I've been in it all my life and I've never seen a season like this has been all winter and all spring," says Gross.

Another upside of the warm winter and spring is early travelers. Gross has already seen visitors at the orchard and expects higher numbers than usual this spring.

The Gross' will have a lot of people at the orchard this weekend. Their annual apple blossom festival is this Saturday in Bedford County.

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Ikenberry Orchards in Daleville says peaches and apples will also arrive early.  The early crop shouldn't affect the business later this year.

But they are worried about this week's forecast that could bring frost.

"Cause the fruit is just hanging out there and it's so vulnerable and small that low temperatures could definitely kill it," says Jennifer Ikenberry.

Ikenberry Orchards sprays crops with potassium about 24 hours before the frost is expected to hit. Potassium acts as an insulator and protects the budding fruit.

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