Freeze, drought take bite out of fall tourism

By Rick Callahan

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Oct. 8 2012 1:15 a.m. MDT

In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, farmer Bob Schaefers walks from the exit of a trail through his corn maze near Mayflower, Ark. Devastating spring freezes and this year's historic drought have taken some of the charm out of rustic fall destinations, leaving some corn mazes too short for labyrinth duty, orchards virtually devoid of U-pick apples and fall colors muted.

Danny Johnston, Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — 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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