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Joe Coffing holds a tree branch that has suffered from summer drought after a deep-freeze wiped out the early spring growth in his apple orchard.

The fall apple crop may be down in Midwestern states if other orchards sustained the same loss as Joe Coffing.

The culprit was not the summer-long drought, but a deep freeze in April. Coffing Brothers Orchard, which is located near the Indiana-Illinois border, lost its entire crop.

The orchard had apples on the trees the size of grapes and the frigid cold snap, which fell to 25 degrees one night, was enough to kill off any growth after that.

When it hit, the freeze hurt as much as 90 percent of the orchard’s crop, leaving nothing for the orchard and its 30-50 employees to harvest this year.

The orchard averages a crop of 135,000 to 140,000 apples, making it one of the largest apple orchards in Indiana.

Coffing said his “loyal customers” will be disappointed this fall when they stop by his 200-acre orchard, which grows about 15 varities of apples.

The word is starting to spread. “They’re shocked, surprised,” Coffing said. “The freeze was clear back in April and that has a lot of people forgetting about it. The drought’s been more on their mind.”

Coffing said his investment was covered by crop insurance. The last time the orchard lost its harvest was in 1986, he said.

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Details for this story were provided by The Commercial News in Danville, Ill.