Good Year for Apples at Last


The trees may be bare, but there's still a lot of action at Vermont's apple orchards, with growers packing fruit for sale and putting some into storage for sales throughout the spring season.

Prices are high, and much of the crop has survived last spring's frosts.

Eric Boire, manager of Sunrise Orchards, says there are still signs of frost damage, however, pointing out a blemish on an Empire apple.

"This is actually frost damage from the spring, from the very cold spring we had--teardrop frost damage that deformed the apple," he says.

He says blemished apples will attract lower prices.

"And the unfortunate thing is, there's nothing wrong with the apple. It's perfectly edible. However, apples sell on what they look like, not what they taste like," he says.

It's fortunate that there was a good season at last, since prior to this, there had been a run of poor seasons.

"We've had three bad years in a row prior to this. Three years ago we got wiped out by hail. Two years ago the frost wiped us out--not wiped us out, but took a very, very large portion of the crop. Last year: wiped out by hail. So the fact we have some apples to go to bat with is a nice change, for Sunrise anyway," Boire says.

Steve Justis is a former apple specialist with the state Agency of Agriculture and now is executive director of the Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association. He says last spring's fluky weather was harder on apple producers in other states.

"We had fairly sporadic damage around the state. But compared to some of the other states, like particularly New York had about a 50 percent crop loss, and Michigan had about a devastating 95 percent crop loss," he says. "So we did better than most other states."