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Apple growers see bumper crop this season

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CANTON - On the heels of a scarce crop last year, north country apple growers are seeing a bumper supply of fruit in their apple orchards this season.

“Our trees are loaded, absolutely loaded, “ said Joel C. Howie, operator of Canton Apples, Canton-Russell Road .”We are getting a fantastic crop.”

Growers explained that when trees under-produce one year, the harvest is often extra large the following season.

“The trees had a rest last year so nature tells them they need to explode the next and that’s what they’ve done,” said Steven L. Fobare, operator of Fobare’s Fruits, 180 Johnson Road, Rensselaer Falls. “Even the wild trees are loaded.”

Alan M. Goodwin, operator of Goodwin’s Orchards, 37 Needham Road, Potsdam, said last year’s apple crop suffered after a heat spell in March caused blossoms to arrive early.

The high spring temperatures were followed by a frost that killed some of the buds. Last summer was hot and dry which stunted apple growth.

This summer, plentiful rain and mild temperatures have helped boost the crop. Cooler nights forecasted this week will help the fruit ripen.

“Cold is good for apples. It changes the starch and that’s what brings the color,” Mr. Goodwin said. “This time of year, we want it to cool down.”

Some U-pick orchards in the north country are already open for customers, while others expect to open within a few days. Picked apples are for sale at many roadside stands.

The U-pick at Fobare’s is already open for customers with four varieties ready, including Early Gold, Ginger Gold, Autumn Crisp and Linda-Mac. Customers can pick seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and picked apples are also for sale. Prices vary depending on the quantity and the variety. Grapes are also available for picking.

Customers visiting Fobare’s will also find a playground, gift shop, bakery and pumpkin patch.

At Canton Orchards, apple varieties include Liberty, Mac-free and Honey Crisp. The U-pick will be open to customers starting Saturday and running every Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Four different sizes are available: half peck for $5; one peck for $8; half a bushel, $14 and one bushel,$20.

The roadside stand at Goodwin’s already has picked apples available. The U-pick operation should open next week with McIntosh, Cortland, Empires and a few other varieties. Picking is from 9 a.m. to dusk Monday through Saturday, closed Sundays.

A bushel of U-pick cost $16, one they pick is $20. Smaller sizes are also available.

There are several other orchards in the county as well, including Brookdale Orchards in Winthrop and Kaneb’s Orchards in Massena.

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