September 06, 2012
Consumers eager to pick apples in September and October are advised to call ahead to their local orchards to avoid disappointment. In a word, Vermont’s 2012 apple crop can be described as “variable”.
Last spring, many growers saw flower buds in their orchards damaged by frost when unusually high spring temperatures pushed growth too fast. While many growers are looking at full or nearly-full crops, others are facing varying percentages of full harvests.
Statewide, Vermont is expecting to harvest 638,000 bushels of apples, about 20 percent fewer than in 2011. “Those numbers can be misleading”, says Steve Justis, the apple association’s executive director. “Much of last year’s crop was damaged by hail late in the season and ended up being used for cider or other processing uses. We’re actually looking at more fresh, saleable fruit this year than last.”
The most recent weather phenomenon—drought—has contributed to the crop variability, but less than typically expected. Justis notes that many of the state’s orchards are located on hillsides to avoid spring frosts--- and often those sites have heavier soils, which take longer to dry out.
Nationwide, the 2012 crop will be down about 14 percent, due to spring frosts and late season hail. New York is expecting to harvest 52 percent of a crop, while Michigan’s crop was reduced by a whopping 85 percent. Across New England, the apple crop is expected to be down about 25 percent. Apple crops are also forecast to be down in Canada and through much of Europe.
The unusually warm summer is causing many apple varieties to mature earlier than usual. McIntosh, the state’s most popular and largest volume variety is typically harvested beginning around September 15-20, but is already being harvested at some orchards.
Honeycrisp, Gala, Empire, Red Delicious, Northern Spy and literally dozens of other old and new varieties will be available for harvest over the next six weeks.
Consumers looking for Vermont orchards to visit this fall can find a full listing at the apple association’s website, www.vermontapples.org.
The Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association, founded in 1896 as the Vermont State Horticultural Society, represents Vermont’s commercial apple growers. The average farm gate value of Vermont’s apple crop is about $15 million.
Source: Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
Last Updated at: September 06, 2012 16:31:42