Apple harvest looking better this year

Apples at G&S Orchards in Walworth, Wayne County. Photo by Diana Louise Carter
Apples at G&S Orchards in Walworth, Wayne County. Photo by Diana Louise Carter

The apple harvest in New York has started and the agriculture experts at Cornell University say there’s good news.

Because of early rainfall, sunny summer weather and recent cool evenings, the apples are looking good for the 2019 crop.

“2019 should be an excellent year for apple quality,” said Susan Brown, the Cornell professor of horticulture who bred the SnapDragon and RubyFrost varieties. Local supplies of those two varieties doubled last year and should continue to increase this year, Brown said.

“This is a time,” Brown said, “that buying local, or close to local, is important as it supports growers throughout your region. Look at the apple sticker to be sure. With all of the many new varieties on the market, there has never been a better time to experiment with finding family favorites.”

Some varieties are arriving a week or two later than usual, Brown said, so consumers should check ahead with their apple sellers to see if their favorites are in stock yet.

An unusually wet May and June caused the growth of some fungal problems but most were kept in check by strategic spraying, according to Professor Kerik Cox, who specializes in fungal and bacterial diseases of apples.

“Fortunately, Marsonnina leaf spot and shoot blights won’t affect the fruit,” Cox said. “Apple scab does, but it’s only cosmetic and doesn’t affect taste.” Cox said.

Insect pests were negatively impacted by the rainy, cold spring, according to Arthur Agnello, a professor in entomology.

“Similar to what we saw last season, this spring was ultimately very delayed, with see-sawing temperatures and miserable rainy stretches that didn’t allow much insect activity but certainly taxed most disease control efforts,” Agnello said.

The good news about this year’s apple crop undoubtedly is welcome to growers, who have experienced crop-damaging droughts and cold snaps in the last several years. New York State is the second-largest grower of apples in the United States.

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