The apple harvest is two weeks early
WATKINS GLEN—This past weekend, apple lovers were busy picking some of the 8,000 bushels that will be leaving Reisinger’s Apple Country this year with visitors.
Many flocked to the fruit farm high above Watkins Glen Sept.11 to select their favorites from the 18 varieties that had reached perfect ripeness. The apple trees, all 9,000 or so of them, grow on nine acres at Apple Country.
The unusually warm weather this year has resulted in nearly all varieties ripening up to two weeks early. Owner Rick Reisinger took a bit of time out work tending orchards to talk about this season.
He said he was really worried last spring when there was a late frost. The usual bloom time for most varieties is around the seventh to ninth of May, but this year the trees were in bloom on April 25. He said, “Everything came through really well. This is the most beautiful crop in years. The trees like heat, water and sun.”
The weather cooperated right through the season this year. Reisinger said, “Every time it got dry, it rained. This year the yield is good and the ample sunshine has produced good sugar levels.” He was asked if he had a favorite variety among all of them. After a bit of thought he said, “Jonagolds.”
He said he likes Jonagolds because they are sweet and tart at the same time. The variety, developed by Cornell in the 1970s, is great for sauce and stores well. His wife Karen has Empires as her favorite.
Last Saturday, many customers were picking Honey Crisp apples. The variety has been around for about five or six years and was developed at the University of Minnesota less than 10 years ago. The variety does very well in cooler areas. Another new variety is Crimson Crisp. Reisinger said this new variety is sweet and tart at the same time. It’s becoming popular in part because it is scab resistant as well as being a good keeper.
He said they had some from last year’s harvest and they were still crisp. Northern Spy is still one of the favorites. This old, old variety is one of the last to ripen in the fall.
Reisinger is familiar with the trees on the farm, having grafted most of them. He said he grows disease resistant trees for sale, nurturing them from buds to bearing size trees. He said the trees he grafted this year with one bud are now six feet tall. About 1,500 of those young trees will be available for sale next spring.
The adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away may have had some truth in fact. Apples are crammed with nutrition as well as being fat free, a big consideration for many. A medium apple contains about 80 calories, but included in that little package is nearly a quarter or the recommended daily intake of fiber, lots of pectin which aids digestion, complex carbohydrates for a longer energy boost and Boron, an essential trace element. All that in a tasty, colorful skin. Recipes for apples range through every course from starters to dessert and from simple comfort food such as applesauce to complicated gourmet dishes as well as apple juice and cider.
Although figures will not be available until after the season ends, production in New York state was up six percent last year. A dollar value of $224 million was put on that crop. Fresh market accounts for about half of the total. New York is the second in apple production after Washington.