This year’s harvest of New York apples is underway with favorites including McIntosh, Zestar, Gala and Honeycrisp filling farm markets and store shelves. Coming off a down season season last year due to weather conditions, the state’s nearly 700 apple growers this year are expected to pick a modern record-breaker — 32 million bushels by the time harvest concludes in November, according to the New York Apple Association.
New York’s average annual production is 29.5 million bushels, and Wayne County is far and away the largest grower of apples in the state.
The abundance of big, juicy apples is evident at farm stands across the area. At The Apple Shed, 3391 Fairville Maple Ridge Road, Arcadia, the farm market has anywhere from 10 to 15 different varieties available at any point in time throughout the season, said farm representative Jessica Wells.
What’s more, retail prices are about half of what they were last year she added. The farm experienced a boom in their apple harvest, like most farms this year. Wells attributes the big harvest to a couple of factors. First, last year’s poor weather gave the trees a “long rest,” she said. Second, trees had a longer blossoming, giving the bees more time to pollinate, which in turn helps the trees bear more fruit.
However, due to the abundance of rain, chemical spraying costs were also up this year. Peak varieties right now and in the coming weeks at The Apple Shed include the Red Delicious, Empire, Jonagold, Crispin and Idared.
Morgan Farms, at 3821 Cory Corners Road in Marion, has also experienced a top crop this year.
“The varieties that we have in the market now are: Honeycrisp, Autumn Crisp, Macoun, Empire, Cortland, MacIntosh, Gala, 20 Ounce and the new SnapDragon,” said farm representative JoAnn Marcellino. “We are happy to be able to offer apples at a reasonable price for people once again.”
Excellent weather conditions — beginning during this year’s bloom and growing season, and continuing into harvest so far — mean that this year’s fruit will be large and juicy, with high natural sugars. Meanwhile, recent new plantings mean that consumers will find more of the most popular New York state apple varieties, the association said. Last year, frosts killed much of the 2012 fruit in the bud, leaving last year’s apple crop at just 17.1 million bushels according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Our consumers who have been waiting for us to get back into the market after last year’s short crop will have lots to celebrate this fall,” stated Jim Allen, apple association president.
Those promoting nutrition also weighed in on the good news. “Apples are the perfect addition to every school lunch,” stated Linda Quinn, the Apple Association’s consulting dietitian. “Their natural sweetness comes packaged with a big serving of fiber so that fuel is released to the body more slowly, giving your child healthy energy while leaving her feeling fuller for longer.”
To promote this year’s crop, NYAA has enlisted New York native and international soccer star Abby Wambach. In July, Wambach assumed the title of women’s world record holder for career goals scored. Television and radio commercials featuring Wambach are airing now; she will also be featured in in-store signage starting later this fall.
Both The Apple Shed and Morgan’s Farm are part of the county’s "Apple Tasting Tour Challenge" which runs through October. During the event, visitors can learn about the many varieties of apples and taste test to find their favorites. Wells said The Apple Shed will have the new SnapDragon available for the weekend. The Ruby Frost comes out in November. Stop in to The Apple Shed’s Haunted Barn Saturdays and Sundays through October from noon to 5 p.m.
In conjunction with the Tasting Weekend, Morgan Farms will host their Family Fun Day on Saturday with lots of fall fun events for the whole family to enjoy.