Apple growers in New York state had to deal with a challenging growing season. “Conditions were not perfect this year due to a late blossom, early fruit-set freeze, and some hail throughout the summer,” says Jessica Wells with Crunch Time Apple Growers. As a result, the state’s total apple production is expected to be down about 20 percent this season. On a positive note, weather conditions in September have been beautiful with just enough rain, cool nighttime temperatures, and warm daytime temperatures. “These perfect conditions are really helping the color and flavor of our apples as we head into harvest,” Wells added.
Specifically looking at the SnapDragon and RubyFrost apple varieties, the two varieties Crunch Time Apple Growers represents, production is expected to be equivalent to last season. “Under normal circumstances, volume of SnapDragon would have been up this year as additional acreage came into production.” Wells said.
Right now, the SnapDragon variety is being harvested and is expected to be available through the end of February. Due to increased demand and level volume, the apples are expected to sell out earlier than normal. Harvest of the RubyFrost variety will take place early to mid-October and similar to previous seasons, this variety is expected to be available through early summer.
Photo left: a worker at Fowler Farms in Wolcott, NY picks SnapDragon apples. Right: SnapDragon apples in an orchard at Fowler Farms in Wolcott, NY.
While initially available in the Northeastern part of the United States, higher production and consumption volumes of SnapDragon and RubyFrost have resulted in a greater distribution network. Early last season, SnapDragon apples could be found in 43 states and Wells expects availability to be similar this year with the greatest availability on the East Coast. “Last year, SnapDragon demand was up around 40 percent and even more in hot markets like Buffalo where the variety is well known as the official apple of the Buffalo Bills.” Demand for RubyFrost was up as well. “This variety has traditionally been mostly available in the Northeast and Southeast.”