Empire State's Apples Strike Back
Favorable weather during this year’s growing season means good news for the area’s apple farmers and the local economy.
The first varieties of this year’s apple harvest are now appearing ready to be picked. And this year, thanks to favorable weather during the growing season, will be a big improvement over last year’s meager harvests in upstate New York.
Isabel Prescott, owner of Riverview Orchards in Rexford, said that for her orchard, 2013 was a big improvement over 2012.
"This is a complete turn around from last year," said Prescott. "Last year we had hardly any apples, this year we have lots of apples."
A March heat wave followed by frosts during last year’s growing season damaged buds, devastating apple crops across the region.
Julia Stewart, a spokesperson for the New York Apple Association, said that the weather during this year’s growing season was kind to the apple trees and pollinators, and that she expects a significantly larger apple harvest across the state.
"The last year's crop was estimated at just over 17 million bushels. This year we're expecting to see about 30 million bushels," said Stewart.
Stewart also said that she expects the favorable weather will lend itself to larger, better tasting apples, and also more varieties available to consumers throughout the harvest season, roughly from August through October.
"We generally have had very good weather this summer. We've had water when we needed it, plenty of sunlight. And what that's going to mean is that we expect excellent fruit size and sugars because we've had these near perfect growing conditions," said Stewart.
According to the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets, apples are the No. 1 fruit grown in the state. Stewart said that the apple industry accounts for 10,000 direct jobs and at least 7,500 indirect jobs in New York.
Alan Grattidge is chair of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors and Supervisor for the Town of Charlton.
"Agriculture plays a key role in Saratoga County's economy and we all recognize what a tough industry the farming business is," said Grattidge.
Grattidge said that he’s pleased to see the projections for a strong apple crop, which brings visitors to area farms.
"It has a lot of positive impacts for people that like to come out and do the pick-your-own and part of the agriculture economy that drives Saratoga County," said Grattidge.
And Isabel Prescott is just of one of the apple producers excited for visitors this fall to take part in seasonal traditions.
"People kind of make a pilgrimage out of coming to the farm in the fall," said Prescott. "It's really great when we can share the farm with them and we've had great weather throughout the year so we can have apples for them to pick," said Prescott.