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Northeastern retailers should be gearing up for plenty of fruitful apple promotions: New York apple growers will be picking rain-fattened apples this season and predict a statewide crop at least as big as last year’s, according to a consensus of the state’s growers and industry leaders.
“Fresh-picked local fruit will be abundant this fall,” said Jim Allen, president of the Fishers, N.Y.-based New York Apple Association. “Consumers will be delighted with the fresh taste and bigger size of our New Crop apples this season.”
Harvest of early-season varieties such as Ginger Gold and Paula Red will begin shortly in the Hudson Valley, western New York and central New York regions. McIntosh harvest, considered the traditional kickoff to the apple season, will begin the first week in September in most regions, and a little later in September in the Lake Champlain area. The harvest will last through early November.
Growers are predicting a crop that will likely come within the state’s five-year average of 29.095 million bushels. “It’s a good crop," said John Russell, manager of Lake Ontario Fruit, a major packinghouse in Albion, N.Y. -- the heart of the western New York growing region.
“We got 100 percent of a crop,” said Ken Migliorelli, a grower in Tivoli, N.Y. In the Lake Champlain growing region, the crop looks strong as well.
“We look good, the same as last year,” said Adam Sullivan of Peru, N.Y.
High demand for home-grown fruit is driving consumers to fresh New York apples in bigger numbers than ever before. Many of New York’s orchards are within one tank of gas to 30 million consumers. “Because local demand is so strong, we are relieved we should have enough New Crop apples for everyone,” Allen said.
Heavy rains, a common element of the season, put a lot of size into the fruit, so consumers should expect larger-than-normal apples, Allen said, adding that consumers should expect bigger selections of popular apple varieties like Honey Crisp, since more recently planted trees come into bearing production this season.
The state crop of traditional varieties like McIntosh and Empire also look promising, according to Empire State growers, who will be looking for more sunshine in the remaining weeks of the season to offset the rain and generate sugar content in the apples, giving them flavor.
The annual NYAA crop prediction is determined by a consensus of growers representing six apple-growing districts throughout the state.
Ranking second in the nation in apple production, New York grows apples on 44,916 acres.