Growers eyeing banner apple crop this yr as orchards open


A less wet 2019 will yield a high-quality apple crop this year, growers around the county say, with many u-pick orchards already ramping up for the season.

Last year was difficult for apple growers due to the amount of rain the county experienced, according to Henderson County Cooperative Extension Director Terry Kelley. This year hasn’t had nearly as much rain.

“This year, I think our quality is going to be much better. In fact, the quality is looking as good as it has in probably a few years,” Kelley said.

In regard to yield, this year will probably not be the heaviest, Kelley said, but it always varies by variety and location. 

“Some varieties are going to be very plentiful. Others may be not quite as plentiful. But I think we’re going to have a better quality of fruit than most people have seen in at least a couple of years because of the better conditions this year,” he added.

The county still experienced some wet weather, Kelley noted, especially during the spring. Any time it rains frequently, farmers have to increase the amount of time they spray the crop. He said there wasn’t a huge impact from direct freezing, but the weather did stay cool during the spring, which may have impacted bee pollination.

“With what we faced last year with the rain, basically 100 inches of rain throughout the year, it’s hard for it not to be better than last year,” Kelley said. “But every year brings its own challenges. Farmers are used to that. That’s the nature of the beast in farming.”

Several u-pick mountain orchards have already opened or are prepared to. Grandad’s Apples opened last week and Justus Orchard held an opening celebration Saturday.

Sky Top Orchard held its grand opening Friday with Ginger Golds, Honeycrisp, Asian Pears, cider and donuts on sale. Owner David Butler called this year’s apples a “bumper crop,” an unusually good harvest with quality size and abundance. He suspects it will be a good tourist season for u-pick orchards around the county.

Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard said on its website that it plans to open in mid-August. The Stepps are celebrating their 50th year of pick-your-own apples this season.

Owner Mike Stepp said the quality looks pretty good right now, and he’s expecting anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of a full crop. Stepp said nobody had a total loss and overall, the county probably has 70 percent of a full yield.

“The quality is pretty good,” said Stepp. “It’s always kind of a struggle to keep up with the diseases when you have a lot of rain, but it’s probably not quite as bad as last year.”

Kelley said roadside vendors will likely begin opening later in the month or in September. By mid-August most of the early varieties will be available, such as Ginger Gold, Honeycrisp and Gala. The season could last up to October or even early November with Granny Smith and Pink Lady varieties.

“Once we get started, there’s a general supply coming out throughout the year, throughout the season. But the varieties change to some degrees. Certainly we’ll have varieties available throughout the year, but you don’t go looking for Granny Smiths in early September.”

Overall, Kelley thinks the county will have a decent apple season. He said growers depend on people coming back for the flavors grown locally here.

“The taste of apples grown on the East Coast is just so much better than those growing on the West Coast, so it’s always good to be able to get access to these local apples,” Kelley said. “You know the flavor is going to be far superior compared to something shipped from somewhere else.” 

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button