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Apples available at Ashton



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October 03, 2012 - Brandon Twp.- In 47 years of farming apples, Dennis and Sharon Ashton had never lost more than half of their crop— until this year.

After unseasonably warm weather in March, a hard freeze April 29 has resulted in only about 7 percent of the normal apple crop being harvestable at Ashton Orchards, 3925 Seymour Lake Road. Still, the owners of the 15-acre orchard want apple lovers to know they are open for business and while prices have increased some over last year, they are not gouging customers.

"We are trying to keep the price reasonable, but not take a loss," said Sharon Ashton. "I've heard stories of other orchards' highly priced cider. We are keeping prices down as much as we can and still pay the bills."

Ashton Orchards has bought apples from another orchard in the state that had a 10 percent yield. Orchards statewide took a hard hit, Sharon noted, but she and husband Dennis did not seek apples from out of state.

"If I can't sell Michigan apples, I won't sell apples," she said. "Washington apples have no flavor to me."

While they will not have all the varieties of apples they usually carry, Ashton Orchards currently offers Ginger Gold, McIntosh, Jonagold, Gala, Jonathan, Cortland, Northern Spy, Golden Delicious, and Empire. This week, available varieties were $22 for a half-bushel. Last year, the price for the more common varieties was about $14 for a half-bushel. Honey Crisp apples, the "Lambourghini of apples," Ashton said, are now sold out, but were going for more than $90 per bushel this year.

Sharon is surprised by the number of customers who were not aware of the devastation to the apple crops across the state this spring.

"According to the records, the last time warm weather too early knocked out the crops this much was 1945," she said. "We've never had it this bad... I'm always thinking of retirement, but we didn't want to go out on these terms. In three more years, we'll celebrate our 50th anniversary in business."

Ashton Orchards is open for the season until Dec. 22. October hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday. 248-627-6671.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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