… and how about ‘dem apples …

If the saying holds true that an apple a day will keep a doctor away, doctors may not be seeing patients for quite some time. The apple crop locally this year has plenty to go around.

Following tumultuous seasons in recent years, many local farmers are thrilled with the amount of apples they are seeing this year. Jane Falcone of Falcone Farms in Forestville said last year was a bare season for apples.

“The season is looking great. We have had basically three bad years in a row. No crop last year and the other two years were funky. At any rate, there are plenty of apples and there’s nothing like seeing a good crop,” she said.

The crop last year was bad due to an early warm period in March followed by some severe frosts in April.

During the warm burst early in the year, most of the trees were starting to have blossoms which were destroyed. Falcone said apples can survive a frost but last year’s was too much.

“We didn’t have any major frost (this year). Apples can survive a couple of frosts. There was nothing on the trees (last year) because everything was so much in bloom after that week in March,” she said. “I guess the weather just pointed in the right direction and the trees did the rest (this year).”

Bill Meadows of Meadows Farms, also in Forestville, said not having a crop last year helped with the 2013 season.

“Last year the trees didn’t have nothing on them. It gave them a year to pretty much rest. They came to life this year and gave an overabundance of apples,” said Meadows. “We had no apples last year anywhere around this area. We have a great crop this year.”

Cornell University, which runs the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program as part of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Portland, recently said in a release the apple crop much like the grape crop is doing well this year. Professor of horticulture Susan Brown said this year is a “quality” crop.

“Unlike last year’s scarcity of apples due to frosts, there will be plenty of quality apples available this season with tremendous diversity of offerings. All that rain caused the abundant fruit to size well, and high temperatures and sunlight have helped to develop the flavors and sugars. Recent high temperatures and cold nights provided the optimum situation for quality,” she said in the release.

Brown said this year is an opportune time to try new varieties of apples including SnapDragon and RubyFrost in addition to favorites such as Cortland or Empire.

“Cortland is almost 100 years old, yet still a favorite for dried slices and fresh fruit salads, due to its low flesh browning. Apple experts named Jonagold as a favorite dessert apple, yet many have never tasted it. Jonagold, created at Cornell, became a hit in Europe and Japan before being truly recognized at home,” Brown said.

She suggests using several varieties for baking and to reduce water in pies. Apples stored in the refrigerator will last longer. Brown suggests to warm up the apples prior to eating to make the most flavor come out. Locally, the farms will be open until late October.

“The season will last until Halloween unless Mother Nature throws in a curve ball,” Falcone said.

Meadows Farm on Prospect Road is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Meadows Farms offers U-Pick apples in addition to various other apple products. For more information, call the farm at 965- 2674. Falcone Farms is located on King Road in Forestville. They offer U-Pick apples and grapes as well as apples on the shelf. Falcone Farms is open daily from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. For more information, call the farm at 965-2503.

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