October 21, 2021

Apple growers say they are ready for a good season

Kevin L. Smith/staff reporter

Jesse Ingall of Grisamore Farms in Locke sorts apples Tuesday to be sold in the farm’s store. The apples are picked fresh each morning, as orchards and apple sellers gear up for the coming apple season.

Jesse Ingall sorted through apples in a storage area at Grisamore Farms in Locke and put them in bags to be sold to customers.

“It takes some time to go through all of them, but it’s worth it to separate good apples from the not-so-good ones,” he said Tuesday afternoon. He had spent the morning picking apples.

Despite a dry August with an early frost, and a forecast for a smaller-than-typical apple harvest, orchards near Cortland County say they’re ready for a good season.

“The set of crops we have this season will be one of our better ones in the past 10 years,” said Eddie Brennan, president of Beak and Skiff Apple Orchards in LaFayette.

Grisamore Farms owner Joanna Cornell expects the 15-acre orchard to go through 3,000 to 4,000 pounds of apples a day during the fall season.

Brennan expects 275,000 pounds this year from the 50-acre orchard.

Irrigation helped, and Cornell said workers thinned the apples so the healthier apples could grow larger.

Despite a report by AgWeb Farm Journal saying apple crops in New York state will expect about 30.9 million 42-pound cartons this year, down from 1.6% from last year, New York Apple Association president Cynthia Haskins said the volume of apples this year will be 32 million cartons, up about about a million.

“We were anticipating less this year with the dry summer we had, but there is more than expected,” she said.

Haskins said people across the state want to be outdoors, and to be at a familiar place, so they’ll pick apples.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to get out in the fresh air and get a healthy snack,” she said. “It would be the same as someone going to take a walk because it’s at a safe distance.”

Brennan and Cornell expect crowds.

“We’ll be prepared for whatever comes at us,” Brennan said.

Expect social distancing and other coronavirus protocols at both orchards. They may adjust hours to help pickers avoid crowds.

“We like to think we can provide a safe environment,” Brennan said. “This will give people a chance to enjoy themselves.”

“We’re trying to get people to stay away from each other, but it’s been tough from keeping them from that,” Cornell said.