Extreme weather takes a bite out of Ohio’s apple crop

October is National Apple Month, but for growers impacted by this year’s unusual weather it will be a bittersweet celebration.

According to a recent article in The Columbus Dispatch, extreme weather during the spring and summer has cut Ohio’s apple harvest almost in half. Last month, the U.S.D.A reported that nearly 40 percent of fruit crops in Ohio were in poor condition. Only four percent of the state’s apple crop was considered in excellent condition.

“This is one of the worst seasons I’ve experienced,” said Ken Golding, a Perry Township-based grower, in The News Herald. “Out of all the years I’ve been growing apples, there are only two other years we’ve had this kind of problem.”

The problem for apple growers was a laundry list of climate conditions, including an unusually warm spring and a brutal summer drought. Apple trees bloomed early this year, in March instead of April, leaving them susceptible to frosts.

As a result, Andy Lynd, an apple grower in Pataskala, told The Columbus Dispatch that the drought has reduced the size of his orchard’s apples and overall crop. The drought might also have long-term ramifications for his trees.

“We lost some newly planted trees to drought,” said Lynd.  “Most of them survived, but they just didn’t grow.”

For consumers, a smaller apple crop will mean higher prices. However, the upside is that this year’s crop of apples should be sweeter and more flavorful than in other years.

To make the most of this season’s limited, but tasty apple crop, here are some tips from www.ohioapples.com on how to select, store and prepare apples:

  • Select apples that are bruise-free and handle apples gently to prevent bruising
  • Select apples that are firm to the touch for the best flavor and crunchiness
  • Store apples in the refrigerator to slow ripening and maintain flavor
  • Wash individually sold apples in cool water before serving
  • Store apples away from strong-smelling foods to prevent them from absorbing unpleasant odors
  • Coat apple slices in a mixture of one part lemon juice to three parts water or 100-percent apple juice to reduce browning

Photo obtained from: michfb.com

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