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The Hard Frost is the Grinch for Apple Picking Season

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Crop Scarcity Hampers Apple Picking this Year

Apple Picking in Upstate New York

Apples at Knight Orchard, Photo Courtesy of Knight OrchardMany apple orchards in Albany, Rensselaer and Saratoga counties will not have U-Pick your own this season because of the scarcity in crop.

The start of school year brings to mind the apple sitting at the corner on the teacher’s desk. The unsuspecting culprit to disappoint apple pickers and apple pie bakers wasn’t the drought or the hot weather that has plagued the country for months.

This past spring there had been 80 degree temperatures that forced the apple blossoms to arrive early. The hard frost that followed several weeks later killed off our future harvest.

“The early start to the growing season was our main problem. It got the trees started too soon, almost a month ahead of last year,” said Josh Knight of Knight Orchards of Saratoga County in Burnt Hills. “We had three hard freezes after bud break, temperatures as low as 18F. The buds can take temperatures down to the mid to high twenties with varying amounts of damage.”

Frost damage occurs after the plants’ blossoms are exposed to the cold.  The new growth cannot hold onto the tree since the seed cavity hasn’t developed.

“The bloom will just die and nothing will develop,” Karen Gardy, marketing director of Goold Orchards in Castleton said. “Whatever comes behind just dies.”

Of the apples that have managed to survive, Gardy said they have either ripened very early or they’re spongy and not eatable.

The apples at Knight Orchards weren’t as large as they could have been, Josh said, with normal rainfall; they too had substantial loss due to the freeze in March.

“The trees we planted this spring didn’t grow as much with the lack of water, which could make them more vulnerable during a cold winter,” Knight said.

Both orchards offer apples through their retail store and local wholesale, but customers can expect prices to be higher due to the short supply. Some varieties will not be available.

New York Apple Country reports of the varieties that are on the market, the Ginger Gold, which is a Golden Delicious type, will be harvested in the Hudson Valley. As a result of the earlier than normal season the McIntosh has been ready for the picking for a while.

When asked how farmers can combat against the drought and the hot dry weather, Knight replied, “We can’t do much for the apple crop during a dry year because we lack a good water source for irrigation.  We were able to water the new trees by tank truck.”

Although the drought will drive up the cost of food; we should still see the same surplus of other fruits and vegetables as usual like raspberries and pumpkins on the market.

The wine grape crop at Goold Orchards, Gardy said, is phenomenal. “In the Finger Lakes region, there is no rain. The grapes are smaller but sweeter,” she said. “We experience the same with our crop.  They also get a second shot.”

Goold Orchards offer U-Pick raspberries, which are a heritage berry ready for the picking late summer and the season goes throughout the fall.

For more information about Goold Orchards visit  Their 24th apple festival will be October 6th and 7th.

For more information about Knights Orchards of Saratoga County visit In addition to apples, they offer pears, peaches and plums.

Diana Denner is a Contributor to The Free George. Photo Courtesy of Knight Orchards

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.


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