David Byers examines a Harrow Beauty peach tree Tuesday at Applacres, near Bedford. The tree has some peaches, but not nearly as many as normal after a spring freeze wiped out most of the crop. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times
David Byers examines a Harrow Beauty peach tree Tuesday at Applacres, near Bedford. The tree has some peaches, but not nearly as many as normal after a spring freeze wiped out most of the crop. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times
BEDFORD — Days of below-zero weather in January killed off most of Indiana’s peaches, and a few hours of below-freezing temperatures on April 15 cut the apple crop in half.

So at Bedford’s Applacres, the peaches currently for sale hail from Georgia. And when apple season comes, there won’t be much of a local crop.

About 30 percent of late-peach varieties from some trees planted on a hill did survive this year; look for them in August, said David Byers, who’s owned the orchard and store just south of Bedford since 1952.

“It hit most of Indiana pretty bad, but things aren’t as bad down in southern Illinois and Kentucky,” he said. “In January, the peaches were in pretty good shape dormancy-wise, and we thought they might make it. But then it stayed cold for too long.”

None of Applacre’s early Red Haven peaches, a sign of Indiana summer that ripen in early July, made it to harvest. Byers knew the prognosis was bad when he cut into about 100 buds from among the 700 or so trees just after the freeze. Nearly all were brown, not green as they are supposed to be.

Then, after a balmy spring that encouraged the apple tree buds to flourish, the temperature plummeted to 27 degrees, freezing and killing about half of them within just a few hours. “We lost half of our apple crop that morning,” Byers said. “It was an early spring, weeks ahead of normal, then that cold night came, and that was the end of that.”

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