Fall leaves are peaking and the air is cool and crisp. It’s time for hayrides, pumpkins and apple picking.
There’s just one problem. There aren’t many apples left.
An early frost in spring meant orchards had less apples on the trees, and gorgeous weather over Columbus Day weekend sent hoards of people to the farms for U-picking. The New York State Apple Association said this year’s harvest produced 14 million bushels, less than half of the 29 million bushels produced last year.
“We were so busy over the weekend, they just cleaned us out,” says Betsy Stuart of Stuart’s Farm in Granite Springs.
Not every orchard is sold out, but many are, including Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard in North Salem (formerly Outhouse Orchards) and The Orchards of Concklin in Pomona. Doc Davies in Congers has apples, and so does Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction. Your best bet: call before you head out with a basket in hand.
“We’re getting a lot of phone calls and a lot of upset people, but September was the height of it this year,” says Christine Tartaglia, the farm store manager at Harvest Moon.
Many orchards have already picked their supply of apples for cold storage, so you’ll still see apples for sale at farmers markets and farm stands. But the smaller crop means that apples may not last through the winter and spring season, as they have in the past.
“We can’t give you a date on when the last apple is going to hit the marketplace,” says Molly Golden, a spokesperson for the New York State Apple Association. “But we’re expecting mid March or end of March.” This year, there were apples from 2010 available through June.
“I wish they would jump up every night and get back on the trees,” laughs Stuart. “But we still have pumpkins!”