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Freeze warnings jangle nerves at wineries

grapes

Warm weather pushed the vines about a month ahead of their usual schedule, so freeze warnings are making wine makers in Illinois and Iowa a little nervous.

A few hours of freezing weather could wipe out this year’s harvest.

Another freeze warning was issued for a third consecutive night Wednesday, April 11, 2012.

Some vines already bear baby grapes that wouldn’t survive a freeze.

“Normally they don’t start budding until the middle of April when the last frost has passed,” said Ron Mark of Summerset Winery in Iowa.  “There have been late frosts that were not that damaging, so this is a different year.”

Grapes bud three times during the season but the first round is the best and the biggest.

Mark says if temps dip below 30 degrees for just a few hours, he could lose all of his grapes and 70% of his crop for the year.

The fallback plan is to try to buy the same grapes from other producers but widespread frost in the U.S. could increase demand and skyrocket grape prices.

(WHO contributed to this report)

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