LOCKE — Eleven-year-old Evan Chaddocks smiled wide as he held out his 11-pound bag of apples Saturday afternoon.
“We took a ride and enjoyed this beautiful day,” he said. “This is officially, for me and my dad, our last weekend of summer.”
Evan’s parents, Tom Chaddocks and Susan Reckhow, are making apple picking their new end-of-summer tradition. Driving from Syracuse, the trio said they loved seeing the rural countryside and having the opportunity to be a part of nature when visiting Grisamore Farms’ orchard in Locke.
“It’s so beautiful, and we like picking the apples and supporting local people and farmers, too,” Reckhow said. “Plus, it’s nice to get the first batch of fresh apples of the season.”
Grisamore Farms opened to the public a few weeks ago, in time for ripe Ginger Gold, Sansa and Gala apples. By mid-September, visitors can pick Cortland apples — a crisp, sweet red apple named for Cortland County — along with Pink Pearl, McIntosh and Honeycrisp apples.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the national apple crop is up 3% from last year, but down 2% from 2020 for New York state.
Joanna Cornell, co-owner of Grisamore Farms, said this summer has not been easy on their orchards.
“It’s been tough because of all the rain,” Cornell said. “So that can bring about different diseases, but the only thing we really had was something called fire blight, but that doesn’t affect the fruit, just impacts the tree. We were lucky enough to have enough help, we went out and cut all the blight out and saved the trees.”
The New York Apple Association has announced new marketing plans for the state’s apple crop season, including new commercials to teach consumers about apple variety, offer recipes and highlight how apples can benefit consumers’ health.
Despite the poor growing season, Grisamore Farm has seen a lot of visitors since reopening for you-pick apples and raspberries, even without the state’s marketing plans.
“We are usually, generally pretty busy as long as the weather’s good, otherwise it can get kind of quiet around here,” Cornell said.
Grisamore Farms is one of the few apple orchards near Cortland County. “There’s not many left anymore,” she said.
A fifth generation farmer, Cornell’s grandparents first bought Grisamore Farm in 1928 and her parents started the pick-your-own tradition 24 years later.
“We’ve got a lot of variety here, and we’ll have stuff for people who like pumpkins and winter squashes by the end of the month,” Cornell said.
The transition from summer to fall is her favorite part of the year, Cornell said. “I like the end of the season. I love the way the leaves smell when they drop.”