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US: Apple harvest appears to be one of the best

This fall`s apple harvest is unusually good due to the cold winter, apple growers are reporting. Vince Gizdich of Gizdich Ranch said his 48 acres have never been as bountiful. `It`s a beautiful, beautiful crop,` he said. `Some of the old guys around here are saying it was a good year because we had such a cold winter. Plus, we had a mild growing season with no adverse weather`

That`s to say that the summer never had a long stretch of hot days that put undue stress on the trees. There were roughly 2,600 acres of orchards in the county in 2006, according to the crop report issued by the Santa Cruz County Agricultural Office. And they brought in a total of $10.3 million that year.

But this year is shaping up to be even bigger, according to the ag office. Gene Silva, a grower of apples since the 1950s in Watsonville, said the dry spring helped the apples out a lot this year. `There wasn`t any rain during the bloom,` he said. `And that always helps the pollination`

Of the dozen of varieties he grows, Gizdich said he`s going to have to go with the winesap, braeburn and the black twig as his favorites. The black twig is due out Friday and will be the last variety picked.

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