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Apple Drought

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New York is the nation's #2 apple producer, behind Washington state.

The cherished autumn tradition of Apple Picking is off to an early start in the Northeast as growers deal with aftershocks from wacky spring weather that hammered fruit crops - three state Assemblymen are calling  for a special session of the Legislature to pass a tax relief bill for New York’s apple farmers.

Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports

The orchards are nearly bare - U.S. Department of Agriculture  figures released last week show apple production down 52 per cent form last year all across New York State - growers say this year's crop will be one the smallest ever.

Phil Hurd of Hurd Family Farms in Ulster County blames the crop loss on an unusually warm spring, followed by late-season freezes and this summer’s drought.

The USDA says the nationwide yield will be about 14 percent below last year's and the smallest since 1986.

Peter Ten Eyck with Indian Ladder Farms in Albany County will be among farm market operators buying apples from other sources so their fall customers won't go without.

Republican Assemblymen Jim Tedisco, Pete Lopez and Steve McLaughlin are calling for a special session of the Legislature to pass The “Family Farmers and Apple Growers Relief Act” would establish a tax credit for the 2012 tax year, allowing farmers to claim 35 percent of their crop losses.

Apple grower Phil Hurd notes that growers may be able to collect on crop insurance

The Senate Finance Committee estimates the proposed “Family Farmers and Apple Growers Relief Act” would cost taxpayers $5 million.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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