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Freeze, Drought Take Bite Out of Fall Tourism

Corn plants struggle to survive in a drought-stricken farm field
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Farm owners across much of the Midwest are scrambling to salvage fall tourism seasons jeopardized by extreme weather.

Spring freezes and this year’s historic drought left some corn too short to form mazes and forced many orchards to cancel popular apple picking. Other orchards shipped in apples from out of state or traded varieties with competitors to ensure they could meet customers’ demands.

Autumn is the peak season for many farms and orchards involved in agritourism. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent agriculture census says tourism generated about $566 million for more than 23,000 U.S. farms in 2007.

Indiana orchard owner Mike Roney says he lost most of his apples to a spring freeze, but all isn’t lost. He has a bumper pumpkin crop.

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