Editorial: A bruising season for apples
Finding an Empire apple in the Empire State won't be easy this fall. Nor will picking a Granny Smith, Ginger Gold or Red Delicious be as simple as scaling a tree.
Apple season arrived early -- and the bounty is expected to be about half of what it was a year ago, which doesn't bode well for New York, the nation's second-largest producer.
In fact, it's forecast to be the worst apple season around here since 1945.
New York's harvest is estimated to be only 13 million bushels, down from the bountiful 30 million the state's orchards produce in a typical year. And that's going to bruise a $300-million industry while also hurting processing plants, seasonal labor and tourism.
The bad season is sure to affect prices at grocery stores and farmers markets, as well as drive up the cost of cider, pie and anything made with this versatile fruit.
The problem for growers was a mild winter, warm March, and frost-filled April, plus hail storms and a dry spell.
There are variations from orchard to orchard, but in general, parts of the Hudson Valley and western and central New York were hit hardest, while the Champlain and Long Island regions fared well. They're all far better off than Michigan, which lost an estimated 90 percent of its crop.
For apple lovers, the lesson is, don't wait for the crunch. Apples are ripe for the picking now.