MISSOULA, Mont. -

Apple growers in the Bitterroot Valley say a cold snap at the same time apple trees were in full bloom and at their most vulnerable will likely dent this year's apple crop.

Al Pernicle of Al and Mary Pernicle's Frost Top Orchard north of Corvallis says he lost 90 percent of his expected apple harvest when temperatures dipped into the 20s several weeks ago.

Charlie Swanson of Mountain View Orchards said he turned on wind machines and heaters but still lost 60 percent of his crop.

Ravalli County Extension Agent Ralph Johnson says the next challenge facing apple growers is fire blight. He says the warm weather and recent rain following the cold snap are the right conditions to breed the bacteria that cause the problem.