Early predictions in August that North Carolina had lost 80 percent of the apple crop turned out to be pretty close to the final number. A report released Jan. 25 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that our state's apple losses were huge, at 76% of the crop.
Total production was 33.5 million pounds, down from 140 million pounds in 2011. Put another way: The 2011 average was 20,300 pounds per acre and 2012's number was 5,000 pounds per acre.
The apple loss was caused by a warm winter and a sudden spring freeze. And the losses were hard to predict early on. Because of the peaks and valleys in our apple-growing sections of the mountains and the way cold air moves around them, some farms lost everything while others kept most of their crop.
It was a dark spot in an otherwise good agricultural year in N.C. A few more numbers on 2012:
- Strawberry production was up 4 percent from 2011, with a value of $29.4 million, up about $2 million.
- Blueberry production was up 9 percent, to 40.5 million pounds, valued at $71 million.
- Peaches stayed the same, at 5,300 tons, although the value of that crop increased 21 percent, to $6.2 million.
- The peanut yield was a record 4,100 pounds per acre. Total production was nearly 435 million pounds, up 49%.
- Those all-important sweet potatoes, one of N.C.'s best crops, matched the 2011 yield of 200 hundredweight per acre, even though the total was down 3 percent because farmers planted 2,000 fewer acres than 2011.