Reporting Holly Wagner
WINSTED, Minn. (WCCO) – A cold snap in the middle of an abnormally warm spring left apple grower Joe Carlson unsure of how this season would turnout.
“We were worried,” Carlson said.
His orchard in Winsted, Minn., escaped the frost with minimal damage.
Then 30 days of 90 degree-plus heat this summer lead to an early harvest and an abundance of apples.
“Our honeycrisp are all off the trees,” he said. “We’re normally just starting to pick them. One of our biggest crops, we’re just so fortunate.”
But other growers didn’t fare as well.
“It wasn’t consistent,” said Paul Hugunin of Minnesota Grown. “You may have an orchard in one spot that has 30 to 50 percent of its crop and not more than 15 to 20 miles away, you have an orchard having one of the best crops it has ever had.”
He isn’t sure why, but says trees that bloomed earlier may have had more damage from frost. And growers who took extra precautions may have weathered it better.
Despite a smaller crop overall, Hugunin says orchards have plenty to pick from.
“Apple growers are at the beginning of a six to eight week window where they really need folks to come out and support the orchards,” Carlson said.
Carlson is lending support to other growers who wound up short, sending some of his near record harvest to other orchards — an apple for an apple, he says.
“We’re able to help other growers keep their season going,” he said. “Next year, they may help us keep our season going.”
Minnesota Grown said if you have a particular kind of apple, you’re looking for you may want to call your local orchard first to make sure they have it.
Check out Minnesota Grown’s website for an orchard near you.