LaFayette (WSYR-TV) -- The local apple crop may be the worst we’ve seen in close to 70 years. The bigger orchards have had a chance to assess the damage caused by the early warmth in March and severe cold that followed.
Growers are reporting they have lost about 80 percent of their crop.
Several apple varieties suffered the worst, including:
Beak and Skiff tells us the Gala and Honeycrisp varieties didn’t fair quite as bad as the more popular varieties.
The good news is we're told the taste and size of the apples should be just fine.
Beak and Skiff’s Mark Fleckenstein says, “We'll have to have more apples in the store, maybe more apples in the tent, maybe there will be some find-the-apple contests. We'll try and make the most of it.”
If you do want to try and pick, you may want to plan on doing it a little earlier, because the fruit will be ready sooner than normal.
"We're still two weeks ahead of schedule because of what happened back in March,” Fleckenstein said. “Instead of picking [apples] the first of October, it’s going to be middle of September. So, the whole season is going to be moved up two or three weeks.”
Fleckenstein tells NewsChannel 9 this is the worst crop they’ve seen since 1945. Crop insurance will help some, but Fleckenstein says it won’t come close to covering the entire loss.
“Obviously, our income is going to be way down for the farm. We’re going to try and keep our employees going and we’ll also do tremendous budget cutting,” Fleckenstein said.
It’s not much better at nearby Apple Acres.
Apple Acres’ Walter Blackler says, “This is the worst I’ve seen. I’ve been doing this since 1965 and actually I think the lowest crop we had previously was around 60 percent of a full crop, so we’re way below that.”
On many of the trees that have survived, you can see a variety of different imperfections. Things that would normally make them cider apples, but this year may qualify for eating.
“Since the entire Northeast is in the same situation we are, maybe that will be accepted by the grocery stores. Maybe they'll say, ‘We'll take that and sell it because of the lack of fruit,’ we're not sure yet,” said Fleckenstein.
The lack of fruit will mean a change in picking for Beak and Skiff. Normally, five or six minutes in one tree would produce a full bag, now it’ll take several trees to do it.
Not only will it be harder to pick the apples this year, Fleckenstein says even with a full crop it’s tough to find enough picking labor. Now that the word’s out, they don’t know if they’ll even have that.