Drastic improvement for apple orchards this year

B y Jaime Thomas

Dan Wilson is not downplaying that he’s pleased with his apple crop this year.

“If it sounds like I’m really happy, it’s because I am,” the owner of Hicks Orchard said Monday. After taking a big hit last fall due to irregular weather, Wilson is glad to be looking at a season that brings a high volume of high quality apples.

“It’s a big relief because we’re looking at a great crop this year,” he said.

“Last year we limped through with 40 percent of our crop,” he said, explaining that such an event can be almost cathartic for an orchard.

“Sometimes after trees have a light crop, they bounce back better the next year. There’s a lot of good, easy picking this year,” Wilson said. “We’re at about 120 percent this season.”

Last year’s poor season was largely due to an unseasonably warm stretch in March, which set the clocks for the trees to bloom.

“They were blooming the first week of April. The blossoms were in a vulnerable stage, and it became cold,” Wilson said. However, as the trees grew last summer they put in buds for the following year’s crop, “and we’re reaping the benefits of that this year.”

Wilson said this winter was more traditional, and the trees opened up at the normal time. Additionally, he said there was good pollination from the bees.

“We’re making lots of cider donuts, having a normal season. That’s pretty much the story at most orchards around here,” he said. The only exceptions are those that were hit by hail, which Hicks was fortunate enough to avoid.

The story is similar at Fairview Orchard in Hampton, where co-owner Don Rogers also saw drastic improvement from last year.

“It’s much better. Last year was devastating; we only had 20 percent,” Rogers said. This year, he said about 85 percent of his crop survived.

Right now, the orchards are in another stage where it’s weather dependent, but more for the sake of the crowds they hope to attract. Wilson said last weekend was good, with a healthy number of people coming to pick.

Though there have been frost warnings on a number of recent night’s, he said apple-growers aren’t worried.

“We had early frost, and some of our apples show that, but they’re still edible and still sellable. We’re just thankful we got what we got,” he said.

“Frost and fall-like weather at this point will help color the fruit up,” Wilson said. Besides the obvious, another perk of this season’s hearty crop will be prices reverting back to what they were about two years ago.

“Prices have dropped, and hopefully that’s an enticement,” he said.

And the prices aren’t the only factor that will rein apple-lovers in to the orchard. Along with cider doughnuts and the usual assortment of local goods, Hicks will be cooking up applewood-fired pizza on the weekends. Slyboro Ciderhouse will host a few weekend events as well, including the release of a new hard cider.

Though tarter varieties were more available several weeks ago, Rogers said he started picking the ever-popular Macintoshes on Saturday.

“The apples are smaller this year, and some fell off the tree early, but overall we’re doing well,” he said.

Comments

comments

Read more in this week's Sentinel in newsstands now or click here to read right now with our e-edition.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Northshire Freepress – 07/03/15

Lakes Region Freepress – 07/03/15

Weekender – 07/03/15

Lakes Classifieds – 07/03/15

Classifieds 07/01/15

Bridge to open to two lanes this weekend

Bridge

By Dan King State Department of Transportation will be opening the Poultney Street Bridge back to two lanes of traffic […]

Graduates reflect on turbulent year, big farewell

DSC_1783

By Dan King It was a school year that saw its fair share of ups and downs, and the Whitehall […]

Eighty-eight grads celebrate mountains, milestones

1a

By Christina Scanlon Bags of M&M candies were distributed to the graduating seniors at Granville Junior-Senior High School Friday night, […]

‘Rejuvenated’ museum ready for new season

Museum 2

By Dan King Skenesborough Museum opened its doors for the 56th year on Sunday and museum director Carol Greenough is […]

Circus ‘advance man’ clowns around

SONY DSC

By Christina Scanlon By the time the Kelly Miller Circus hits town later this month, one of the clowns will […]

Music, food, fireworks offered

By Christina Scanlon The New York Players have been a favorite for years as part of the Village Summer Concert […]

O’Shea continues as interim principal

Jane O'Shea

By Dan King When the Whitehall Board of Education scheduled a special meeting for last Thursday, the immediate assumption was […]