Drought leaves apples tiny and falling from trees

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - You will find a lot of apples on the trees at Donald Turner's Kansas City, Kan., orchard, but that's not necessarily a good thing.

They're so small he's not even going to pick them. Much of the orchard looks like an apple graveyard.

"You can see all the brown on some of them," Turner said, pointing to an apple. "That's sunburn."

There was nothing he could do to stop it.

"This is going to be my worst year as far as that goes in the forty years I've lived here because of the drought," Turner said.

With no irrigation system, his orchard is completely dependent on the weather. Simply put, this summer has been too hot and too dry with just 1.5 inches of rain.

Many apples have fallen from their branches from lack of moisture. Most of them remaining on the tree didn't fall because they're so small.

Turner is bracing for a big loss when the season ends.

"Oh, it'll run in the thousands (of dollars)," Turner explained, "because if I can't sell them, I'm not going to pick them."

Some area orchards are faring better.

Rasa Orchards in Lexington, Mo., is a larger operation and is reporting a better year, partially due to its irrigation system. Another reason is the increased demand for Midwest apples because of an early frost in Michigan, a major apple production state.

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