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Local News

September 14, 2013

Area apple orchards bounce back

Bumper crop comes after frosty 2012

If you’ve been waiting for the sweet, tart and juicy taste of New York’s top variety of apple, the McIntosh, your time has arrived. And unlike last year, when spring frosts ruined much of the crop, apple growers and suppliers in the area said Friday that 2013 looks like a bountiful year for all apple varieties.

Local lovers of HoneyCrisps, and Zestars, other popular varieties out now, will also have little trouble funding quality fruit, area business owners said.

Willy Bruneau, owner of Middlefield Orchard, said the season was a little early this year, with harvesting beginning about Aug. 1. The weather has been favorable with a relatively mild spring and good moisture.

“We’re harvesting a lot of apples” at his pick-your-own operation, he said.

The HoneyCrisp is coming in now, which Bruneau said is always a popular variety. It’s crunchy and has a good balance between sweet and tart, he said. The orchard has about 30 varieties, including Pristine, and Zestar, another popular apple in the early season.

Last year, the business only sold 1,400 bushels of apples, which made for a bad year, Bruneau said. This year he hopes to sell thousands, he said, because he has to make enough money from the short harvest season to make it through the rest of the year.

Starting on Saturday, the orchard has added a press for families to use throughout the season make their own apple cider. It maintains the family-friendly nature of the business, he said.

According to a press release from the New York Apple Association, the apple season is officially underway throughout the state. Its nearly 700 growers expect to pick 32 million bushels by the time the harvest concludes in November.

If that’s the case, it would be a modern record. New York’s average annual production is 29.5 million bushels but last year’s frost reduced the crop to 17.1 million bushels, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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