With the opening days of fall now here, many area residents may already be looking ahead to hopeful pumpkin purchases for upcoming Halloween festivities.
While national reports have caused many to fear that pumpkins may be hard to come by in 2011, that won't be the case for another fruit. There will be an abundance of high quality apples throughout New York state this fall.
The New York Apple Association called this year's apple harvest one of the best on record.
The 2011 New York state apple crop is considered to be above average, according to vendors, growers and the New York Apple Association.
P-J photo by Scott Shelters
"There are so many great opportunities for families to pick apples and enjoy this beautiful harvest," said Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association.
Growers reported a sizable and high-quality crop this season. Fruit conditions are exceptional this year, according to the apple association, which cited high sugar and crispness levels in New York state-grown products.
"Growing conditions were spectacular through much of the summer, with lots of sunny, dry weather generating high sugar content in the fruit, making for super flavor," said Peter Gregg, spokesman for the association.
Recent storms and natural disasters largely spared the apple industry, with little reported damage to orchards from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
"We were lucky," said Allen. "We have a great crop and we hope folks come out and enjoy it with us."
Folks can get their apple enjoyment at several locations in and around the Jamestown area. A few farms within driving distance actually grow and sell their own apples, according to the apple association's website. The farms include Forestville's Sheridan Hill Farms, Falcone Farms Inc. and Meadows Farm Inc. and Dunkirk's Mancuso Fruit & Vegetable.
In the immediate Jamestown area, however, it's a different story.
Peterson Farm, located on Fluvanna Ave. Ext. in Jamestown and Kennedy's Abers Acres sell directly to the public. However, they do not grow their own apples. The same is true for Wade Morse's Whittier Farm at 1507 Blockville Watts Flats Road in Ashville.
The farm, which has been operating for 62 years, used to feature locally grown apples. Morse now receives apple shipments from New Royal Orchards in Niagara County. "We couldn't physically handle it anymore," he said, noting that southwestern New York's climate causes difficulties for those who try to grow apples. "I was getting too old for it."
While continuing to sell apples, Morse has stayed up-to-date on this year's crop. "New York State's apple crop is considered to be a little better than an average crop," he said. "It looked like it was going to be a fairly heavy crop, but the rain caused a lot of problems. A lot of blocks of apples won't even be picked."
Alan Buhr, one of the four owners of New Royal Orchards, provided some insight on the product his company ships to Morse and other vendors in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.
"We have a very nice crop," he said. "We have the best and the worst. We had a very heavy spring rain. That's affected a portion of the crop, but the nice summer weather helped."
The above average crop has created above-average sales. "Business has been great," Morse said, noting that his customers have been quite pleased with this year's crop thus far. "We just started advertising, but business was great even before we started doing that. We were really busy last weekend."
Statewide sales and interest have been excellent to this point, according to Gregg.
"Our server crashed due to high-click volume (last week). We could have worse problems than our server crashing because people are on here looking at which orchards they want to go to this weekend."
Based in Fishers, the New York Apple Association is the nonprofit agricultural trade association representing the commercial apple growers in the state. For more information on the association or where to purchase apples this fall, visit nyapplecountry.com.