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Wild Spring, Summer Weather Gives Apple Orchards Early Crop

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – After a spring and summer filled with warm, wild and wacky weather, you’ll be able to pick apples a lot earlier.

The weather that let us enjoy an early start to spring could put apples in your kitchen as soon as this week.

All those days with temperatures in the 70s earlier this year forced apple trees – like the ones at Apple Jacks Orchards in Delano, Minn., — to bloom ahead of schedule. Now the apples are ready to be picked, almost two weeks before they are typically ready to be taken off the trees.

Mike Dekarski, the manager at Apple Jacks, likes what he sees. Walking through his more than 10,000 trees, you can see his apples are about ready to be picked.

But Dekarski wasn’t always so happy. Mother Nature threw the apple industry a curve ball, freezing temperatures in the month of April.

“In the middle of April, I didn’t think we were going to have any apples at all,” he said.

Dekarski did what he could to save his apples, and it paid off.

He says his apples will taste great, but his yield will be smaller because of the cold snap. He usually gets about 5,000 bushels out of his orchards; this year it will be around 3,000.

“Some varieties I have no apples, like Whitney Crabs,” he said.

However, Harelson, Ginger Gold and Chestnut Crab apples are good to go, Dekarski said.

He says August apples are two weeks early. September apples, like the Sweet 16, will be one week ahead of schedule, and the apples usually ready to go in October will be right on time.

“It’s perfect right now, you know, it’s 80s and 70s in the daytime and it gets down to 50s at night, and that’s what we’d like to see through picking,” he said.

All of the Zestar apples are off the trees; they, usually, are not picked until the last week of August.

Dekarski says people are bringing families out early to make sure they don’t miss out on the kind of apples they want. He suggests you call apple orchards ahead of your trip to check the availability of your favorite apples.

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