On the heels of a poor crop last year, local growers and orchards are looking forward to a fruitful apple-picking season in the Capital Region come September.
There were very few apples on the trees in much of New York last fall — a disappointment for local orchards and all who enjoy the autumn tradition of apple picking. But this year, the trees are looking bountiful.
“It looks really good,” said Isabel Prescott, owner of Riverview Orchards in Clifton Park. “It is going to go really well. So far so good. Lots of apples.”
Prescott explained that March 2012 was a very warm month, speeding up the trees’ cycle, but freezing temperatures in April damaged the apple blossoms. As a result, there were few apples to be picked this time last year at many upstate orchards.
“This year, the temperatures went up much more slowly, so we were able to avoid that,” she said.
The apple-picking season starts right around Sept. 1. Prescott said the best time of year to pick apples is September and early October. Riverview will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A variety of apples will be offered, including Macintosh, Cortlands and Golden and Red Delicious.
“There will be all different kinds,” she said.
Duane Lindsey, farm and orchard manager at Lindsey’s Idyllwood Orchard in Rexford, has already begun picking apples.
“I think we’ve got a reasonable crop this year,” he said. “It is coming along nice.”
But Lindsey does not want to jump the gun just yet, and before people begin planning their apple pies, applesauce and apple cider, he says it is still too early to tell exactly how abundant this season will be. One thing is for sure, though, he said: This season is better than last.
“Last year, we were probably 40 percent of a normal crop,” he said. “We did not have a good year. This year is average, maybe a little above. Last year, we knew in June we were not going to have a lot of apples.”
Lindsey’s pick-your-own season begins Aug. 31, and the orchard will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m, until Halloween. Lindsey’s advice: Come early.
“If you want Macintosh, come early in September,” he said. “Do not wait until October because they will be all gone by that time.”
Apple growing is one of the biggest agricultural industries in New York state. Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association, said the apple crop last year was off by 55 to 60 percent.
“You know last year was pretty devastating for the industry,” he said. “The growers are good managers and good financial managers, and they have to prepare for years like that and just get through.”
But, there is a positive, Allen said: This year, the trees came back much stronger because of last year’s smaller crop — resulting in more apples filling the trees.
“We are very positive, and we are very excited about a back-to-normal or even an above-normal crop,” he said.
Allen expects picking season to be in full swing over the next two weeks. He suggested people check the New York Apple Association website at www.nyapplecountry.com to find nearby orchards and apple information.
“We are fast approaching the real meat of the season,” he said. “We are pretty excited.”
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