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Posts Tagged ‘Appleland Orchard’

Hill Orchards, Johnston, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Hill Orchards, Johnston, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple blossoms, Rocky Brook Orchard, Middletown, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple blossoms, Rocky Brook Orchard, Middletown, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

IT IS APPLE BLOSSOM time in New England’s orchards. The bloom is about on schedule for a typical year, with varieties like McIntosh in full bloom in some places, especially in southern areas like Rhode Island, where most of these photographs were taken yesterday.

Growers are cautiously optimistic after getting through early spring without an extreme weather event like last year’s March heat wave, which left the fragile blossoms vulnerable to damage from frost and resulted in a smaller crop.

Apple blossoms, Pippin Apple Orchard, Cranston, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple blossoms, Pippin Apple Orchard, Cranston, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

New England’s orchards produced about 30 percent fewer apples than normal in 2012, yet fared well compared to the rest of the Northeast. Michigan, the third-largest apple growing state behind New York and Washington, suffered historic losses, with frost damage destroying more than 80 percent of the crop. New York lost about half of its usual crop.

Most years consumers can purchase New England apples throughout the year, but this spring local apples are scarcer than usual. But Appleland Orchard in Greenville, Rhode Island, was packing giant, crisp Mutsus yesterday, so 2012 New England apples are still available in some places.

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Apple blossoms, Barden Family Orchard, North Scituate, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple blossoms, Barden Family Orchard, North Scituate, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple blossoms, Elwood Orchard, Glocester, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple blossoms, Elwood Orchard, Glocester, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

The USDA released a report earlier this month about the threat to our honeybee population, which has been in decline since the 1980s. The situation has worsened considerably since 2006, when what eventually came to be known as Colony Collapse Disorder was first reported by beekeepers. Hives were suddenly abandoned except for a live queen (and sometimes honey and immature brood). Beekeepers in 36 states in the United States and parts of Europe, Brazil, and India soon were affected, experiencing losses of up to 90 percent of their hives.

Apple blossoms (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple blossoms (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Bee pollination is responsible for $30 billion in added value for crops like almonds and other nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables, according to a May 2 article about the USDA study by Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press. Yet the number of managed honeybee colonies has dropped from five million in the 1940s to about half that amount today, even though the need continues to climb.

The USDA report lists a number of factors impacting honeybee health, though none stand out as a single cause of the decline. Virulent pathogens and pests like varroa and tracheal mites top the list. Frequent and extensive travel, and increased exposure to other bees (and the diseases they might be carrying) may be contributing factors.

Apple blossoms (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple blossoms (Russell Steven Powell photo)

In many parts of the country, notably California’s vast almond orchards, monoculture has stripped the environment of a year-round food source for bees, and some pesticides may be having negative effects on honeybees.

New England’s diverse flora in and around the apple orchard may be a hedge against honeybee stress and encourage the native bee population. Growers are also experimenting with other pollinators like native bumble and blue orchard bees, and Japanese orchard bees, which have been used to pollinate orchards in Japan for more than 50 years. More than 100 species of wild bees visit United States apple orchards.

To learn more about the critical role honeybees play in pollinating the apple crop, view the short video program below.

Apple blossoms, Appleland Orchard, Greenville, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple blossoms, Appleland Orchard, Greenville, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple blossoms, Rocky Brook Orchard, Middletown, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple blossoms, Rocky Brook Orchard, Middletown, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple blossoms, Foppema's Farm, Sutton, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple blossoms, Foppema’s Farm, Sutton, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

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Honeycrisp (foreground) and Gala are among the apple varieties now ripe for picking at orchards like Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Honeycrisp (foreground) and Gala are among the apple varieties now ripe for picking at orchards like Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Massachusetts. (Russell Steven Powell photo)

THE 2012 NEW ENGLAND APPLE CROP was celebrated around the region yesterday, as state officials in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont visited orchards to meet with growers and sample fresh-picked apples.

Mary Jordan (3rd from right) of the Department of Agricultural Resources presents Karen Green, Stephanie Waite, and Gail Conlin of Westward Orchards in Harvard, Massachusetts, a proclamation from Gov. Deval Patrick naming September "Apple Month." (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Mary Jordan (3rd from right) of the Department of Agricultural Resources presents Karen Green, Stephanie Waite, and Gail Conlin of Westward Orchards in Harvard, Massachusetts, a proclamation from Gov. Deval Patrick naming September “Apple Month.” (Russell Steven Powell photo)

In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick and the state legislature declared September “Apple Month.” Officials from the Department of Agricultural Resources visited Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Bolton Orchards in Bolton, and Westward Orchards in Harvard to present signed copies of the declaration.

In Connecticut, Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky read Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s proclamation of September 5, at New England Apple Day at Belltown Hill Orchards in South Glastonbury. In Rhode Island, Ken Ayars, Chief of Agriculture, presented a similar proclamation at Appleland Orchard in Smithfield. State officials in New Hampshire gathered at Apple Hill Farm in Concord to show their support and present their New England Apple Day proclamation.

The 2012 New England apple crop is expected to be smaller than normal due to damage inflicted by a spring frost and scattered hail in mid-summer, but over all the harvest looks strong and is off to a robust start, a week or more ahead of schedule. There will be plenty of fresh apples for picking throughout the season.

Varieties like McIntosh, Cortland, Gala, and Honeycrisp are already being picked at many of the region’s orchards and should be available at pick-your-own farms this weekend. Call ahead to see what your favorite orchard is picking, or visit New England Apples for a listing of orchards throughout the six-state region.

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Gala apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gala apple (Bar Lois Weeks photo)

Gala has become one of the most widely grown apples in the world since it was introduced from New Zealand in 1934. It has a conical shape and red-orange coloring with yellow striping, and it often turns a deeper color late in the season and in storage. Gala is a sweet, crunchy apple, and juicy. Its flavor has hints of pear. Gala is well suited for both fresh eating and cooking, and it is ready for harvest in many orchards now.

Gala derives its genetic heritage from Cox’s Orange Pippin, an English apple dating back to 1825, and both Red and Golden Delicious. One of its offspring is Jazz, a managed variety introduced in 2000.

Managed, or club, varieties, are now the norm for new apples developed around the world. Growers can only plant these varieties if they are licensed to do so. The goal of managing varieties this way is to maintain quality and limit production, and return more revenue to the people and programs that develop them. While this can prevent a popular apple from being over-planted, it means that consumers may not find certain new varieties in their local orchard.

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HERE’S A RECIPE for Galas or other New England apples adapted from the kitchen of Roy Palmquist. For a healthier version, substitute plain yogurt for the sour cream (try the Greek kind for extra creaminess), or applesauce for all or part of the butter.

Sour Cream Apple Cake

6 T butter

2 eggs

1 c all-purpose flour

1 c whole wheat flour

1/4 t salt

1 c sour cream

3/4 c sugar

1 t vanilla

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

2-3 apples like Gala or Honeycrisp, cored and thinly sliced

Topping

1/2 c walnuts or pecans, chopped

1/3 c sugar

1 t cinnamon

Icing

3/4 c confectioners’ sugar

3/4 t almond extract

milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients and sour cream, and mix well. Spoon half the batter into a greased 9”x13” pan.

Layer apple slices on top and sprinkle with half of topping mixture. Repeat the three layers: batter, apples, topping.

Bake 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Mix together confectioners’ sugar and almond extract. Add just enough milk to make it moist enough to drizzle off a spoon. While cake is still warm, drizzle with icing.

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America's Apple

America’s Apple

IT TAKES GREAT EFFORT and a little luck to bring an apple crop to the crescendo of harvest, but visiting an orchard teeming with apples in September and October is a treat for all of the senses.

Read about how about apples are grown and the challenges growers face as they guide their crop from spring bloom through harvest in America’s Apple, a new book about apple growing in the United States by Russell Steven Powell.

Powell, who has worked in the apple industry for the past 16 years, visited more than 50 orchards across the country gathering information for the book, and interviewed some of the nation’s leading apple researchers.

The hard-cover volume features nearly 50 full-color photographs by Bar Lois Weeks, plus a photographic index of 120 apple varieties grown in the United States.

To learn more, including how to order, visit America’s Apple.

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