Apple Crop May Thrive After Wet Summer

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(Host) This summer’s wet, cool weather has made for a difficult growing season for some Vermont crops. But the state’s apple growers aren’t complaining. They’re hoping for some sunshine in the next few weeks to put the finishing touches on a good crop of Vermont apples.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) Wet weather makes for big juicy apples.

(Elena Garcia) “Right now we have good fruit size. That has been due to the wetter than usual conditions so a lot of water has gone into the fruit.”

(Zind) Elena Garcia is a plant and soil scientist at the University of Vermont. Garcia says while the wet weather has been generally good for the apple crop, growers are hoping for sunny days and cool nights to put a blush on the apples that will be harvested next month.

(Garcia) “The enzymes that trigger color development are associated with the cooler temperatures and sunny days.”

(Zind) The right weather conditions are especially important for red varieties like Macintosh, Empire and Cortland – color is key to their marketability. More than half the apples grown in Vermont are Macs.

Ray Allen says excessive rain can stress trees, but generally too much moisture is far better than too little. Allen’s South Hero orchard is the oldest commercial orchard in Vermont, dating back to 1870. Allen says so far this year’s crop promises to be a good one.

(Allen) “Right now I would just like to have a lot of sunshine to finish growing the crop.”

(Zind) Vermont produced 850,000 bushels of apples last year making it eighteenth among the 35 apple producing states.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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