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September 14, 2013

Area apple orchards bounce back

Bumper crop comes after frosty 2012

(Continued)

Another family-friendly provider of apples is the Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard. Co-owner and vice president Bill Michaels said the early harvest is done at his suppliers, and the season is looking very good. He has McIntosh, Cortland and Galas, while Empires will be coming in next week. The season began the weekend of Aug. 24.

Other early varieties are Paula Reds and Gingergold, Michaels said, and the cider-pressing season has also started. The flavor of the cider changes throughout the season, with the peak usually coming  Columbus Day weekend. The harvest should be done about that time, he said, and the final varieties of the season are the Northern Spy, Jonagold and Ida Red.

The Fly Creek Cider Mill buys its apples from growers in Columbia and Onondaga counties.

“We’re right between two good growing areas,” Michaels said.

The good growing season won’t necessarily reduce prices, which are still fluctuating because the pent-up demand is “keeping growers happy,” Michaels said. But the quality is superb, the size is good and the colors are nice, he said.

Debbie Annutto, co-owner of Annutto’s Farm Stand, said her business buys apples from the Hudson Valley and Western New York, and presses its own cider.

The situation is “100 percent better than last year,” she said. It all depends on the weather in the spring, when the trees blossom. Last year, there were four freezing days during that time.

“The harvest is right on time this year,” with the first of this year’s crop including Paula Reds and McIntosh. She said her favorites are the HoneyCrisps, which are also out now, and the Macouns. They usually come in the first week of October.

When customers come in and find the apples are cheaper and more plentiful than last year, they say “thank god,” she said. “We sell a lot of apples.”

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