A cold snap in March severely trimmed back this fall's apple crop in Douglas County, several area apple growers said today.
The pickings are slim for many popular varieties Jonathan, red delicious or golden delicious, they said.
However, winesaps, a more hardy variety, weathered the unusual spring.
"It's been a bad year," said Bob Hess, Rt. 1, who has a 60-tree orchard he operates as a hobby about five miles west of Lawrence.
He said the unusual cold snap in March curtailed fruit production of many of the apple varieties that were ready to bloom.
"Probably the best crop we've had is the winesaps," Hess said. Hess said winesaps, noted for their shelf longevity, probably weren't hurt by the freeze because they had not yet reached bloom.
"If the wind hit you right, you were in good shape," he said. "If it hit you wrong, you were out of business."
HE SAID on his Grimes golden variety trees, there were no apples on the side of the tree hit by the cold wind.
"You could tell . . . where that apple tree had got hit by the freeze," he said. "You could see just right where the wind came through there."
Paul Gesink, owner of Maple Leaf Orchards in Baldwin, said most of his varieties did not bloom.
"It's been kind of scattered," Gesink said. "We've had a few apples here and there. Some varieties had a decent crop."
Like other apple growers, he said his winesaps did well.
"They're real consistent," he said. "You can always count on the winesaps."
GESINK SAID he still is able sell apples, "but we're buying them from Missouri and bringing them into our market because we just don't have enough of our own."
Tom Beisecker, a Kansas University associate professor of communications studies, who has an orchard about four miles north and east of Baldwin, called his crop "very poor."
"Our trees last spring did not bloom well, and when they did bloom, it was cold enough where the bees were not active in the orchard, so we had minimal fruit set," he said.
"We just had a few winesaps set. Virtually none of the other varieties set," he said.
Beisecker said some of the trees did blossom.
"But the bulk of my producing trees were on a north slope and it was cold enough to mess everything up," he said. "It was a very strange spring."
BEISECKER, who said his orchard is in the development stage, said he will not be able to sell anything commercially. He has about about 150 new trees. But no more than seven to eight of his 40 producing trees bore fruit this year, he said.
"I literally had less than 10 red delicious apples on six mature trees," he said. And on 12 Jonathan trees, I had three apples. . . . The winesaps are going to give us a few."
Mary Davenport, the owner of an operation which is run by Greg Shipe, about four miles east of Lawrence, said despite the weather, she was pleased with the crop.
"The frost affected us some, but we still had some left," she said. "We were happy with what we had, because we could have been completely frozen out."