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Raining apples

Wet weather expected to yield bigger fruit for harvest

August 23, 2009
By RODNEY MINOR, The Leader-Herald

Bigger is better, or at least apple growers are hoping so.

The abundant rainfall from this summer is expected to bump up the size of the apples, and this fall's harvest is expected to be at least as big as last year's 29.8 million bushels of apples, according to the New York Apple Association.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also forecasts an increase in apple production in the state. According to a report released Aug. 12, it expects the state to produce about 1.27 billion pounds of apples this year, an increase from last year's 1.25 billion pounds.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

Todd Rogers, owner of Rogers Family Orchard in Johnstown, stands on a ladder as he picks Paula Red apples at his orchard on Tuesday.

Todd Rogers, the owner of Rogers Family Orchards in Johnstown, said it appears the apples will be big and plentiful this year. He said the hail did not strike earlier this season the way it has in the past, which helped.

"It looks like it will be a nice year," he said.

June was the 10th wettest June on average for the Northeast region of the U.S. since 1984. It was the wettest June on record for a number of northeast cities, including Atlantic City, N.J., and Bangor, Maine.

According to the National Weather Service, the Albany area set a new record for July with 9.91 inches of precipitation. It just edged out the old record, set in 1871, of 9.37 inches.

Of course, the extra rainfall this summer meant more insect and fungus spray was required to keep the apples healthy. The fungus, in particular, can be quite the detriment because it produces black spots on the apples.

Rogers said the orchard, which has around 15 acres of apple trees, spent about 25 to 30 percent more on spraying this year because of the rainfall.

"But it was worth it for the bigger, juicier apples," he said.

However, growers say in some varieties of apples, heat also is important to increase the size of the apple. So the recent sunshine and warm weather has been welcomed by some.

At Pavlus Orchard in Fort Plain, Ed Pavlus said the sunshine helps put color into the apples and makes them a little sweeter.

According to the association, Sunshine generates sugar content in the apple, giving them flavor.

Pavlus said on his 4 acres, he has 13 varieties of apples. They generally have some nice size to them this year.

"Things look pretty good," Pavlus said.

Growers in New York, the No. 2 apple producing state, already may be picking early varieties, such as Ginger Gold and Paula Red. The Macintosh harvest starts the first week in September, kicking the season into full swing.

Jim Hoffman, the owner of Sand Flats Orchard, said he expects the cooler temperatures in the fall will aid the development of some varieties.

"The apples are still growing," he said. "Most are in their last month of development."

While all the above average amount of rainfall made keeping a spraying regimen difficult, he said, the majority of the apples are in good shape.

It also helped that most of August has been a pretty dry month. According to the National?Weather?Service, about a half of an inch of precipitation had fallen for the month as of Thursday. That is more than 1.5 inches below normal.

The orchard has about 2,000 apple trees. Each tree produces about a bushel of apples, Hoffman said, and about 150 apples are in a bushel. Which means the orchard will produce approximately 300,000 apples.

Before the picking season ends around the beginning of November, Hoffman said, the best picking time is in mid to late September. He said to help out customers, the orchard updates its Web site - www.sandflatsorchard.com - to let people know what varieties are available.

"It will be an excellent apple picking year," he said.

According to the association, High demand for "home grown" fruit is driving consumers to fresh New York apples in bigger numbers than ever before. Many of New York's orchards are within one tank of gas to 30 million consumers.

New York grows apples on 44,916 acres. It ranks second in the nation in apple production. The U.S. is the world's second-largest producer of apples, behind China.

For more information, visit the New York Apple Association Web site at www.nyapplecountry.com

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.

 
 

 

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