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Posts Tagged ‘Hill Orchards’

Jonagold apples are labeled "Better than Honeycrisp" at Tougas Family Farm, Northborough, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Jonagold apples are labeled “Better than Honeycrisp” at Tougas Family Farm, Northborough, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

THE 2014 NEW ENGLAND APPLE crop is decidedly uneven. Some orchards have plenty of fruit, some just miles away have been forced to close early after running out of fresh apples.

The region avoided major outbreaks of frost damage in the spring, hail in summer, or a fall hurricane, any of which can shrink the crop. But the 2014 New England harvest is smaller than usual for several reasons, including last year’s harsh winter, which damaged or killed trees in some orchards; spotty pollination during spring bloom, impacting whole orchards or certain varieties; and a larger-than-usual outbreak of the bacterial infection fire blight in all of the New England states except Maine.

Some orchards are down as much as 60 percent to 70 percent from a normal year. But many New England orchards have outstanding crops. Region-wide, there are plenty of beautiful, delicious apples of all varieties and sizes, a few of which are shown here.

So if you don’t find your favorite apple at your favorite orchard, don’t despair. Simply branch out to another New England orchard, or check your supermarket for local apples. Chances are you will not have to look far.

The Massachusetts photographs were taken Sunday, October 5, the Rhode Island orchards Monday, October 6.

Visit our website, New England Apples, for a list of the region’s orchards and to learn about New England apple varieties and where they are grown.

Topaz apples, Tougas Family Farm, Northborough, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

A heavy crop of late-season Topaz apples is among the varieties available at Tougas Family Farm, Northborough, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Tougas Family Farm, Northborough, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Tougas Family Farm, Northborough, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

TOPAZ is a disease-resistant variety from the Czech Republic that made its commercial debut in 1990. The small but active Czech Republic apple industry has been in the forefront of developing new disease-resistant varieties, including the scab-resistant Topaz and its parents, Rubin and Vanda.

Topaz is a medium to large apple with a red blush over a yellow skin. Its cream-colored flesh is crisp, and its flavor, initially more tart than sweet, mellows some in storage. There is a redder strain known as Crimson Topaz or Red Topaz.

Red Apple Farm, Phillipston, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Red Apple Farm, Phillipston, Massachusetts (Russell Steven Powell photo)

PEOPLE SWARMED to New England’s orchards Sunday like bees to nectar after Saturday’s rain. Massachusetts orchards Red Apple Farm in Phillipston and Tougas Family Farm in Northborough are among the many orchards that have outstanding crops this fall.

Owner James Steere, Steere Orchard, Greenville, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Owner James Steere, Steere Orchard, Greenville, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Macoun apples are just coming in at Steere Orchard, Greenville, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Macoun apples are just coming in at Steere Orchard, Greenville, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Macoun apples, Steere Orchard, Greenville, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Macoun apples, Steere Orchard, Greenville, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

STEERE ORCHARD in Greenville, Rhode Island, is just now harvesting Macouns, more than a week later than usual.

Steere Orchard will celebrate its 10th annual “Applefest” this weekend, Sunday, October 12, and Columbus Day, Monday, October 13, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition to sampling and picking apples, there will be hayrides, a farmers market, live music, and baked goods.

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

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

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

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

THERE ARE MORE apples remaining on the trees at Hill Orchards than neighboring Dame Farm and Orchard, both of Johnston, Rhode Island. The Macouns are nearly gone at Dame Farm and Orchard, which expects to be all picked out of all varieties by this weekend (there are plenty of fresh apples and other produce for sale in their farm store).

Macoun apple, Dame Farm and Orchard, Johnston, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Macoun apple, Dame Farm and Orchard, Johnston, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

McIntosh apples, Dame Farm and Orchard, Johnston, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

McIntosh apples, Dame Farm and Orchard, Johnston, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

 

Cortland apples, Dame Farm and Orchard, Johnston, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Cortland apples, Dame Farm and Orchard, Johnston, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Gala apples, Dame Farm and Orchard, Johnston, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Gala apples, Dame Farm and Orchard, Johnston, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Mutsu apples, Pippin Orchard, Cranston, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Mutsu apples, Pippin Orchard, Cranston, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

PIPPIN ORCHARD in Cranston, Rhode Island, still has some pick-your-own as well as fresh apples in its roadside store, but it is close to being picked out. Its cold storage room, usually full by now, is half full; even the orchard floor is unusually clean.

Phantom Farms apple tree, Cumberland, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Phantom Farms apple tree, Cumberland, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Pick-your-own apples are already gone at Phantom Farms in Cumberland, Rhode Island, but there are fresh apples and other goods for sale in their farm store and bakery.

Stripped of fruit, the orchard is still beautiful, fragrant, and peaceful, as Phantom Farms gradually transitions from standard-sized to dwarf and semi-dwarf trees.

Apple tree, Phantom Farms, Cumberland, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple tree, Phantom Farms, Cumberland, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

A standard-sized apple tree towers over amid dwarf saplings at Phantom Farms, Cumberland, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

A standard-sized apple tree towers over dwarf saplings at Phantom Farms, Cumberland, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple tree, Phantom Farms, Cumberland, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple tree, Phantom Farms, Cumberland, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple tree, Phantom Farms, Cumberland, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Apple tree, Phantom Farms, Cumberland, Rhode Island (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Buell’s Orchard

Eastford, Connecticut

Moon rising over Buell's Orchard, Eastford, Connecticut (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Moon rising over Buell’s Orchard, Eastford, Connecticut (Russell Steven Powell photo)

Buell’s Orchard in Eastford, Connecticut, has a good supply of apples.

'Apples of New England' by Russell Steven PowellRUSSELL STEVEN POWELL will discuss apples and read from his new book, Apples of New England (Countryman Press), at several sites over the Columbus Day Weekend.

Photographer Bar Lois Weeks will make a joint appearance with him at Boothby’s Orchard and Farm Monday, October 13:

Saturday, October 11, 2 p.m.

Historic Deerfield

80 Old Main St., Deerfield, Massachusetts

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Monday, October 13, 11 a.m.

Boothby’s Orchard and Farm

366 Boothby Rd., Livermore, Maine

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Tuesday, October 14, 7:30 p.m.

Williamsburg Historical Society

4 North Main St., Williamsburg, Massachusetts

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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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