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Maine apple farmers brace for inland impacts from Hurricane Lee

Workers at Ricker Hill Orchard picked apples from the tops of trees Tuesday, lightening the trees to withstand strong winds.

TURNER, Maine — As Mainers kept their eyes on Hurricane Lee Tuesday, coastal communities aren't the only ones trying to prepare for a storm not typically seen in Maine.

Workers at Ricker Hill Orchard in Turner planned to climb ladders all week, picking apples from the tops of trees in the farm's orchards across seven towns in three counties. 

Harry Ricker explained apple trees can become top-heavy as the fruit grows on their branches, and if strong winds blow this coming weekend, they could potentially uproot in damp soil or snap in half. 

And, with each tree in a row being connected by wire for strength, one toppled tree would assuredly mean many more.

"That’s like breaking your factory," Ricker said. "If the wind blows the apples off, we’re out that crop. If it blows the trees over, we’re out of business. So, we want to minimize that as much as possible."

Meanwhile, farms that rely on visitors to pick their apples were concerned as well. Aaron Libby, from Libby & Sons in Limerick, joked on the phone Tuesday that whatever storm was headed Maine's way that weekend, it would have helped to arrive on a Tuesday instead, so more customers could come over the weekend and pick over his trees.

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