It's A Banner Year For New York Apples, Say Growers

Sep 22, 2017

ROCHESTER (WXXI) - Apple growers say a series of unusual weather conditions and a little luck combined to produce the best apple crop they've seen in years. “They're beautifully plump, a gorgeous size and this gorgeous, glowing color on every single variety," said Amy Machamer, co-owner of Hurd Orchards in Holley. 

A wet spring and summer and sunny, cool August provided the perfect growing conditions for apples and other fruit crops.  The unseasonably warm weather of the past several weeks means an early apple harvest and Machamer said they’re racing to keep up.

"Right now we're picking Cortland; other growers started earlier this week,” she said. “We see on the horizon the brilliant Snap Dragon ripening even as early as this weekend; we see Empire on the heels of that."

At Whittier Fruit Farm near Spencerport, owner Mark Russell has, for the first time, employed a government program to hire enough workers for the harvest.  H2A grants temporary visas to agricultural workers.

"It's meant training some new folks,” Russell said. “But it's also meant meeting some new folks and making some new friends, and hopefully some lasting relationships."

Russell hopes temperatures start to drop because the last few weeks have been a bit too warm.

"This creates difficulty with cold storage because you're putting tons and tons and tons of 80 degree fruit into large, refrigerated rooms and asking them to cool down quickly, which is a difficult thing to do."

Hurd Orchards and Whittier Farms escaped any serious damage to their apple crops from summer hail storms, but they say other area growers weren’t as fortunate.

Overall, they say 2017 is a perfect year for local apple lovers. "We have, on our farm, absolutely the most spectacular crop of apples that we have seen in a long time,” Machamer said.