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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 09/11/13
'Spectacular' apple crop
above average this year
by CHRIS GRAYFor the 2012 apple harvest, Michigan State University Extension Fruit Educator Bob Tritten called the loss of apples due to weather "staggering."
Observer Staff Writer
This year, however, he summarized the Romeo area's apple crop with a more optimistic word.
"Spectacular," he said.
Local orchards are reporting a full harvest of apples this year, expecting the crop to last well into Halloween in their stores and for u-pick.
Tritten said this year's harvest is looking to be slightly better than average, with the only setback being a delay in the harvest by a couple of days.
"Romeo has a long history of growing good crops of apples mainly because of the site and some other factors," he said. "It's wonderful to see bins of apples placed in the orchard this year."
The local orchards' success matches a statewide trend. The Michigan Apple Committee is projecting 30 million bushels will be produced by state growers this year, up from the average of 19.7 million (828 million pounds).
Last year's unusually warm winter and April freezes resulted in the state harvesting a mere 2.7 million bushels in 2012.
Westview Orchards co-owner Abby Jacobson said the crop at her orchard's crop is a little slow but is otherwise a marked improvement over last year.
"The apples are plentiful, we have lots of apples for u-pick," she said. "A lot of people missed that last year<that was a heartbreak for a lot of us last year."
She said 20 different varieties are grown at the orchard, with u-pick starting as early as last weekend for fall varieties. Honeycrisp apples are expected to be ready at the orchard in mid-September.
Blake's Orchard and Cider Mill is reporting a great crop as well. Paul Blake, co-owner, said the crop is on schedule, with McIntosh, gala and honeycrisp apples available for customers.
"Last year we didn't have any, we had about 10 percent of the crop," he said. "This year we have a full crop."
Blake said since the trees didn't produce much fruit last year, the dormant period allowed the trees to store up energy and produce an extra amount of apples.
Other local orchards reported heavy crops as well, though they have been damaged by hailstorms that bombarded the area this summer.
Jeff Mulholland, a partner for Miller's Big Red Orchard and Cider Mill, said about 70 percent of the crop was marked up by summer hailstorms, but are usable in products like cider and pies.
"The fruit is amazing in abundance, but a lot of it is unattractive," he said. "We're really focusing on using our fruit right now for what we're making with it."
Despite the hail damage, he said there are plenty of apples available for u-pick throughout October. The orchard grows about 13 varieties of apples.
Bill Verellen, owner of Verellen Orchards, said his orchard endured the hail damage as well but expects plenty of apples from the 13 different varieties they grow.
"There are plenty of juice apples, so there will be plenty of cider to sell," he said. "I'd say we have a really full crop of apples, it's a bumper crop."
The orchard harvests the majority of its apples in October, but began picking varieties like honeycrisps and galas as early as last week.
Stony Creek Orchard and Cider Mill opened its fruit stand with apples and pears as of Sept. 7. Last year, the orchard experienced a 100 percent loss of apples.
The Michigan Apple Committee states Michigan's apple industry brings in about $700 to $900 million a year, and is the third-largest apple producing state in the nation.