Monday, September 21, 2015

Apple Harvest Smaller This Year, But Quality is Great

Apple ready to be picked in a New York orchard.
Another story from Empire Farm & Dairy magazine:

Empire Farm & Dairy

New York state is in the heart of the apple harvest.

And the good news is there will be plenty of delicious apples for everyone this season, according to the New York Apple Association.

The harvest forecast is for producers to have a smaller number of apples than usual this year due to some problems caused by frost in May. But Julia Stewart, speaking for the New York Apple Association in Fishers, Ontario County, said there will be plenty of apples for all consumers, and the fruit will be of fantastic quality.

The forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Apple Association is for New York — the No. 2 apple-producing state in the country — to harvest 26.2 million apples this year, compared with 30.1 million in 2014.

“Last year was exceptionally above normal, and this year will be a little smaller than normal,” Stewart said.

There were no areas of the state this year with massive devastation due to the weather, but instead, small pockets were hit with frost in the spring, she said.

“It all depended on where you were,” Stewart said. “It was very hit and miss.”

She said some areas, such as the state’s largest apple area along Lake Ontario in Wayne County, are seeing great numbers of apples on the trees, while another spot in the same region could have fewer due to frost that killed fruit blooms.

“We’ve had some orchards with damage, mainly in Orleans County, and some in Wayne and some in Niagara County as well. But certainly not devastation,” said Craig J. Kahlke, an extension agent and a member of the Lake Ontario Fruit Team.

“These are a few orchards and only a few varieties in those orchards. We certainly have a very nice statewide apple crop, and there will be no shortage of excellent quality fruit (in) the fall,” he said.

The apple growers in the eastern part of the state — Clinton and Essex counties, as well as the Capital Region — did not experience frost damage that will have a significant impact on their crop,” said Anna Wallis, Cornell Cooperative Extension fruit specialist in Plattsburgh.

“Luckily, most of the orchards are close enough to Lake Champlain to benefit from a water-moderated climate,” she said. “The weather station in Peru, N.Y., recorded a low of 34.6 degrees May 23, not cold enough to have a significant impact.”

Some orchards in Northern New York also lost fruit due to freezing temperatures on May 23, when the mercury dipped into the mid- to high 20s.

“It’s devastating for those who lose fruit,” Stewart said. “But overall, the crop is very good, and statewide we’ve had very good weather.”

That weather includes plentiful sunshine and just the right amount of rain, she said.

“The red varieties need sun to color,” Stewart said. “Also, the cooler nighttime temperatures being experienced now also help apples get a beautiful bright red to the skin.”

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