Apple orchards across New England are starting to open to the public for the “You-Pick” season. In Maine, they couldn’t be more excited about the quality of the crop.
“The quality is unbelievable,” said Jeff Timberlake, co-owner of Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner, Maine. “This is going to be one of the bigger crops we’ve picked in our lifetime.”
Timberlake looks back on the last year of weather, and calls it the “perfect storm” for apples. He said the relentless snowfall last winter created an insulating blanket of snow that protected tree roots. Then, the late start to spring and moderate amount of rainfall reduced the risk for certain fungi – so they didn’t have to spray the crops as early.
“Sometimes when you get a heavy crop, you tend to pick up some bland flavors, but I haven’t detected that yet,” said Dr. Renae Moran, a Tree Fruit Specialist at the University of Maine.
“I am pleased with the crop load, and I’m pleased with the quality of the fruit,” said Dr. Moran.
At Ricker Hill, varieties such as Cortland, MacIntosh, Gala, and Honey Crisp are available now, and Dr. Moran expects the season to be a long one, well into October.
The only complaint at the orchard is the attendance so far. Timberlake said warm September weather may be keeping people at Maine beaches, instead of venturing into the apple orchards.
“Our business should have picked up, but when you have 90 degree days, I don’t know if picking apples is one of your top priorities,” he said.