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Orchards Produce Good Apple Crop


by Caitlin Lochamire

Published: Friday, October 4, 2019

The fall season is a time of harvest. It often induces thoughts of corn stalks, all things pumpkins, spices, cozy flannels and colorful leaves. Apple picking is an activity that some enjoy in early fall.

This year, like most other crops, the apple season is a little behind schedule. Local orchards seem to be experiencing a bountiful crop despite seasonal challenges.

"This was a very difficult year for all farmers," said Maureen Kercher of Kercher's Sunrise Orchards Farm Market in Goshen. "That included specialty crops."

The orchard is home to over 25,000 trees on 75 acres of land. On that land, about 45,000 bushels of apples are produced.

Kercher said the biggest problem this year was the two hail storms that hit Goshen in June. At the time, the apples were the size of a thumb. The storms still did considerable damage, according to Kercher.

Kercher sells her apples at her farm market, but depending on the year, also sells to Walmart as well.

Fresh apple cider is also made at the orchard. Kercher sells cider at Martin's Supermarket in addition to her farm market.

Other seasonal activities are available for apple enthusiasts as well. Kercher's offers U-pick in the orchard from Sept. 1 until the end of October. They also provide school field trips where students can get an insight on what it takes to run an apple orchard and farm.

Consumers can choose from over 20 varieties of apples. Kercher said most varieties have recovered from the hail and produced a decent crop, but Gala suffered the most.

Located north of Kercher's in Three Rivers is Corey Lake Orchards. The orchard grows Gala, Honeycrisp, McIntosh, Jon-A-Mac, Cortland, Northern Spy, Golden Delicious and more.

The apples grown at the orchard are sold right at the business' farm market. A few apples may be sold to a cannery in Paw Paw to be made into apple sauce.

The orchard consists of 30 acres and produces about 6,000 bushels of apples per year. According to Beth Hubbard, owner of Corey Lake Orchards, this year's apple harvest is similar to last year. There has been a good crop of apples so far.

However, weather this year did pose an early challenge.

"We have had difficult weather conditions, primarily a wet-cool spring which caused some damage to the petals and left some of the apples scarred," Hubbard said. "But we use those to make sweet cider!"

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