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Sizing up the apple season in the Valley

Lorelei Muller

Though the season is running about a week behind, local apple orchards are expecting that this year’s crop will be average to above-average. The late spring meant delayed flowering, which resulted in a slow start for the apples — so most varieties are seven to 10 days behind a typical year. 

With the Paula Red apples done, Janick Moise notes that at Frier Orchards they have just begun picking Lobos.

Laurie Ann Prevost of Rockburn Orchards says, “This weekend we will have Marshall McIntosh ready for U-pick (hopefully) — it’s a type of McIntosh that matures slightly quicker than a regular Mac. Ginger Gold is also ready: I don’t have it at U-pick but will have some in the kiosk.” 

According to Jeff Blair, visitors to Blair Orchards’ Family Day on September 15 will be able to fill their bags with McIntosh and Lobo apples.

The McIntosh variety apples are anticipated to be generally available around September 18, with Honeycrisp and Spartan following about a week later. Cortland and Empire will probably be ready at the beginning of October. All of this is assuming that Mother Nature doesn’t throw any surprises our way. 

The dry spell at the end of July raised concerns about smaller apples. 

Prevost said that at Rockburn Orchards, “We are lucky enough to have irrigation in the whole orchard, so that has helped with size. Without irrigation the fruit would be much smaller. We also did a lot of hand thinning of the fruit to help the remaining apples size up properly. We knock down the smaller and/or damaged fruit to let the nice ones size up more.”

Regarding the dry summer, Blair said, “Up here on the hill, we missed a lot of the showers received down in the valley. But with recent rain, the fruits are now sizing up.” Moise noted the same conditions and results at Frier Orchards. 

While the September rain and cool temperatures may have brought an abrupt end to summer, both have been important factors contributing to a great apple harvest to come.

According to Prevost, “The cooler weather in the past few weeks has really helped with colour on the apples. The cold nights help the apples turn that nice deep red colour.” 

So, all in all, despite a late start and a dry July, it’s sizing up to be a great apple season. 

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