State Agricultural Officials Highlight Fall Apple Harvest
Apple Season Kicks Off Early This Year
BOSTON – Wednesday, August 29, 2012 – Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) are reporting the state’s apple orchards have survived a tough year and have come out with a good crop of apples, even as national stories describe challenges in states as close as Michigan and New York.
Early in the year, some orchards were hit with a late frost, but many have done well this year even with the semi-drought conditions. The recent rains have helped, with some growers reporting above average fruit size this fall.
“I’ve heard from growers that apples are ready to be picked now, and Labor Day weekend would be a great time to get the family out for a local day outing as many schools are already in session,” said DAR Commissioner Greg Watson.
Commissioner Watson urges residents to take advantage of the many great local varieties apple growers produce by visiting Massachusetts orchards, farm stands and farmers' markets for their favorites.
The Red Apple Farm in Phillipston is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year and have special weekend events planned.
“This year is the earliest I’ve ever seen apples ready. Labor Day weekend we’ll have plenty of McIntosh and Gingergold apples ready to be picked,” said Al Rose of Red Apple Farm.
Massachusetts boasts more than 100 varieties of apples, including local favorites such as McIntosh, Cortland, Macoun, Gala and Honeycrisp. According to the United States Apple Association, apples contain no fat, cholesterol or sodium and are excellent sources of fiber, natural plant-based anti-oxidants and the mineral boron – which promotes healthy bones.
Some Massachusetts apple facts:
- There are approximately 369 apple farms in Massachusetts.
- The value of the Massachusetts apple crop in 2010 was more than $17.8 million.
- Massachusetts ranks 12th nationally for the production of apples.
- More than 40 percent of apple growers market their apples directly to consumers through roadside farm stands, farmers' markets and pick-your-own operations.
For a list of Massachusetts apple orchards, pick-your-own apple farms, farmers' markets, and roadside produce stands, DAR has an easy-to-use farm finder which provides information about local farms, their locations, and contact information.
For additional information on apple varieties and orchards in Massachusetts visit the New England Apple's website.
DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services - DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth's agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow at twitter.com/MDARCommish.