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NY apple update: ideal spring conditions herald strong bloom

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Lyndonville, NY — (May 15, 2023)   The northwestern region of New York state is known for its great growing conditions with rich fertile soil, consistent sources of natural precipitation, and overall moderate temperatures.  Last winter, the weather in the region proved to be overall mild, which followed with a cool spring that set up near ideal conditions for the start of the apple season.

Brett Baker, President of United Apple Sales BB #:170382 with orchards and packing facilities located in Lyndonville, NY, commented, “Winters in western NY can vary significantly from season to season but this year we had a moderate winter with more rain than the large volume of snow that impacted other parts of the state.

“As growers, we welcome the year-round steady precipitation as it provides the sustainable ground water for orchards to maximize growing conditions from the bloom in mid-May all the way through harvest beginning in late August,” said  Baker.

Justin Whipple, United Apple’s Field Operations and Orchard Manager, said that coming out of the traditional winter months, March was cool and rainy. This led to mid-April when there was a stretch of temperature in the 70s, which moved trees from green tip to cluster, and basically pushed about a month’s worth of growth in a week.    

“While early warm weather can be positive, we don’t want the trees waking up too early as there still is the potential for significant shifts in the temperature. The critical temperatures that can negatively affect a potential crop become a concern at tight cluster, which is usually middle to end of April. From that period  on, temperature plays a crucial role in crop volume, fruit size, fruit finish and storability.

“This year we had favorable weather during the growth stage of tight cluster through beginning stages of bloom. We are approaching full bloom and the extended forecast looks great for pollination, with temps in the 70s. At this point, all indicators are looking favorable for a very strong crop this season,” said Whipple.

United Apple offers a full line of regional favorites and club varieties for its retail partners and processing/slicing customers.  Regional varieties include: Acey Mac, Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Red Delicious.

Baker noted that last season they enjoyed a huge crop of Honeycrisp with favorable sizing, excellent color, and great flavor. 

“Typically, Honeys are in a bi-annual cycle where volume tends to be normal one year and then rebound the subsequent season with more fruit.  Based on a review of the Honeycrisp blocks this spring, we anticipate even stronger volume, which could push two record years in a row.”

Based on continued consumer interest in Pink Lady, and its cold storage strength for the slicing market, United Apple has increased acreage dedicated to the variety. “Pinks have great flavor for eating out of hand and they hold their color, which have proven to be strong attributes for slicing programs,” Baker stated.

Club varieties – EverCrisp, Ruby Frost and SnapDragon  – are benefitting from a mild spring weather as well.  “Over the past 6-7 seasons, we have gained extensive experience in growing these varieties. We have also developed specific handling practices and longer-term storage strategies to enhance varietal flavor, which enables us to offer sustainable volumes to maximize these varieties and respond to growing consumer demand.  

“Our retail partners know that we have a diverse, year-round apple program to satisfy consumers with the traditional favorites, as well as those customers who are looking for new flavor profiles that are experienced with our club varieties,” commented Baker.