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FISHERS, N.Y. -- The New York Apple Association (NYAA) based here said it predicts a healthy fall apple harvest, to the tune of 29.5 million bushels.
Outstanding summer growing conditions, as well as ideal pollination conditions this spring, have led to one of the best looking crops ever in New York, growers are reporting. "We're looking at an outstanding quality crop this fall," said Jim Allen, NYAA president.
Statewide, the three primary growing regions are all reporting good quality, with the strongest anticipated in the eastern part of the state, with some orchards predicting a crop size 110 percent of normal.
The Lake Champlain region has rebounded from last year's smaller-than-normal crop with potentially an excellent crop this year, according to Allen, while in the western part of the state, along Lake Ontario, the recent rains have improved fruit size and growers there are predicting outstanding quality as well.
While growing condition are favorable, however, many growers have concerns about higher input costs, particularly for energy and labor. "We are experiencing record high production costs this year based on fuel and cost increases on other materials," Allen said.
A huge looming concern this fall will be having enough labor to harvest this crop. Harvest timing is expected to normal, with early varieties like Ginger Gold and Paula Red to be harvested beginning in two to three weeks.
Although New York apple growers will harvest more Honeycrisp, they are doubtful they will be able to meet the ever-increasing high consumer demand for that apple.
The harvest will begin in earnest in September with the arrival of harvest time for the McIntosh, New York's biggest variety. Empire apples, the state's second biggest variety, will be picked later in September. The harvest runs through November with more than 20 different commercial varieties to be picked, ranking New York's crop as the most diverse in the nation.
The annual NYAA crop prediction was determined by a consensus of growers representing six apple growing districts throughout the state, crop advisors, processing apple buyers and Cornell Cooperative Extension agents. New York ranks second in apple production nationwide.
The state's most popular varieties are McIntosh with 19 percent of the state's total production and Empire with 11 percent of the state's total. Other major varieties in descending order are Red Delicious, Rome, Crispin, Cortland, and Idared.
Apple consumption is on the rise due to continued university research proving that apples can help fight cancer, lower cholesterol, and help dieters lose weight. Apples are the third most popular fruit item in grocery store produce sections behind bananas and grapes.