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A poor apple season has prompted some fruit producers in the United States to consider a life in a warmer world.

A poor apple season has prompted some fruit producers in the United States to consider a life in a warmer world.

New Hampshire - Chuck and Diane Souters' heat alarm went off around 10:30 p.m. one fateful night in mid-May.

The alarm measures the temperature in their 30-acre orchard and emits a loud sound if it drops too low. That Thursday evening in Concord, New Hampshire, the temperature was around 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It continued to drop.

The apple orchard at Souters' farm was in full bloom, which is normal for mid-May. This year, it was particularly good.

"We called it the popcorn bloom," said Diane Souter. "The tree was just white with flowers."

By Friday morning, all the blossoms had turned brown. The Souters cut open young apples the size of pencil erasers. Their juice had frozen, expanded, and burst the cells and seeds.

"No seeds, no apples," Chuck Souter said, standing among rows of green trees. The Souters planted their apple orchard in 1978, shortly after buying a neglected piece of land in New Hampshire's capital. They planted the first trees before they even built their house. This year, the branches are bare, unburdened by fruit.

For places like Apple Hill, a farm owned by the Souters, apple picking is a typical autumn tradition in New England. But a good harvest depends on what happened months ago. This year, many of New Hampshire's apple trees bore no fruit due to a frosty May night.

Seasonal Shifts Fruit producers like the Souters are witnessing how human-induced climate change is altering the seasonal patterns they've relied on for years in fruit production. As the atmosphere warms and the weather becomes increasingly unpredictable, some farmers are considering major changes, such as planting different crops or exploring new methods to protect their trees from inclement weather.

Jeffrey Holmes, director of the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food, called this year unprecedented. Hundreds of acres of crops were frozen during two strong cold snaps: first peaches in February, then apples in May.

Chuck Souter said he sees how weather conditions are changing on his farm and others. He's hesitant to cite reasons like climate change but acknowledges that seasons have become less predictable than before.

"You don't have to be a scientist to see things are different now," he said.

Jason Londo, a professor of horticulture at Cornell University, agrees. Things are different.

"We are changing the stability of all of our seasons," he said.

Londo studies how fruit crops are adapting to climate change caused by human activity. He said not every disruptive event, like May frosts, indicates climate change. But the temperatures that apple trees have adapted to over millennia are changing as people continue to burn fossil fuels, leading to global warming.

SNYDE

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