Apple-picking season is off to an early start in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, as fruit growers continue dealing with the effects of wacky weather last spring.
A deep freeze in April killed buds that had formed on apple, cherry and other fruit trees during a rare summerlike stretch the previous month. Growers reported huge losses from parts of New York to Minnesota. Michigan was hit especially hard, losing up to 90 percent of its crop.
The fruit that survived is ripening several weeks earlier than normal. Harvesting is under way -- or soon will be -- on many farms.
Growers say people who want to buy apples at farm markets or pick their own should move quickly. Some farms aren't offering the pick-your-own option this year, including The Country Mill in Charlotte.