With apple season just around the corner, some predictions from America's biggest apple-producing regions have begun to pop up. Sit back down, California: This is the glory season for the North.
Following a disastrous peach season for areas roughly north of central New Jersey, we found ourselves wondering: Are this year's apples okay? After all, many of the same areas grow both apples and peaches. Will this fall be bereft of apple pies?
Apples are grown all over the country, but the biggest apple producers are northern states. In descending order, the top producers are usually Washington State, New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. But the quality of an apple year tends to see-saw; a good year in eastern states like New York and Pennsylvania often means a lousy year in Washington and Oregon, and vice versa.
This year, Michigan seems to be having a bonkers crop, possibly the strongest in decades. The Michigan Apple Committee recently predicted a whopping 31 million bushel harvest this year, 7 million more than last year. Michigan was hit with warm weather this past spring, just as the Northeast was, but Michigan was lucky enough to move into summer without a crazy cold spell like the Northeast had. So Michigan's apple trees bloomed early, yes, but managed to survive into the summer.
It's also going to be a good season for Washington; the Washington State Tree Fruit Association predicted an increase of 15 percent over last year, up to 132.9 million bushels.
But New York--well, things in the Northeast in general are a little goofy this year. A drought throughout the region has, at best, stunted fruit growth, and at worst actively reduced the crop size. New York State is expecting a crop of around 30 million bushels, which you'll notice is slightly fewer than Michigan's predicted crop. On the other hand, the drought had an unexpected effect: With less water, the apples in New York will have a higher sugar concentration, leading to, yes, smaller apples, but they'll be sweeter and crunchier.
Pennsylvania is expected to show similar characteristics: near the average in sheer crop size, maybe a bit smaller than usual, but the apples themselves are expected to be smaller than last year.
New England, though not a major apple-producing power (probably due to the relatively small size of the states), is facing some difficulties. As in New York and Pennsylvania, apples themselves are predicted to be smaller, but the drought seems to have affected the more northern New England states much more harshly. It's likely that the crop will be significantly smaller than last year, and that it'll be harvested earlier--so if you're in New England and like to head out to pick-your-own orchards, go out sooner than usual--within the next couple of weeks.
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