September 22, 2013

Apple harvest under way

PERU — It’s apple harvest time in the Champlain Valley.

Bill Everett, who owns Everett Orchards in the Town of Peru with his brother, Tom, and their father, David, said they started to harvest in early September.

Early on, they picked the Paula Red and Ginger Gold varieties.

“We are now concentrating on McIntosh,” he said Wednesday. “We (also) started to pick Honeycrisp today.”

Others to follow

Those will be followed by other varieties such as Cortland and Macoun. 

The season started well, as conditions were fairly dry before Memorial Day. Then it rained almost continually into June, which makes it hard to control diseases.

“Apple scab was a tough one to keep up with,” Everett said.

Once the steady rains subsided, the growing season has been fairly normal, he said, and the fruit grew at a good pace. Those early issues may still result in a slightly lower yield this year, he said.

There was plenty of sun the first week of harvest, but the nights weren’t cool enough. The weather this week has been great, he said, with sunny days and temperatures in the low- to mid-40s, which helps develop a deep red color.

Ideally, there will be little rain through the end of harvest, which Everett expects to come in early to mid-October.

Participated in trials

Everett Orchards has participated in Cornell Cooperative Extension field trials since 2002. They have studied the results of four different growing systems to calculate which offers the best return on investment.

This year, the study has also included use of mechanized sidewall shearing to reduce the number of flowers allowed to grow to fruit on each tree. It also exposes more fruit to sunlight, Everett said.

Everett said they have a crew of 60 Jamaican laborers as well as two truck drivers working to harvest the crop. Some of them were spot picking the ripest Honeycrisp apples at the field trial location on Wednesday.

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