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Fall apple crop looks 'appealing'



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Ray Porter owner of Porterís Orchard thins some of the apples at his farm. Michigan apple growers are predicting an excellent crop. Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
June 29, 2011 - With summertime just heating up, it's difficult to think of the cool days of autumn and apple season.

But for at least some apple growers, fall can't get here fast enough.

The Michigan Apple Committee is estimating the state's apple crop this year will be about 28 percent bigger than average. Holly Whetstone, marketing and communications director of the Michigan Apple Committee, says they're predicting a record 25 million bushels.

"We've had some great weather for apple growing—conducive to a great crop," said Whetstone. "Last year (2010) there was a freeze in the springtime—the apples took a year off and sagged about 30 percent. The bigger crop in part is due to biennial bearing, where a bigger crop is followed by a light crop."

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Ray Porter, owner of Porter's Orchard, 12060 Hegel Road, Atlas Township, has been in the apple business for more than 30 years and produces about 4,000 bushels each year and confirms the bumper crop.

"Things look really good right now," said Porter, who finished in second place during Michigan's 12th Annual Apple Cider Contest in 2009.

"The number of apples on the trees were so great we had to thin some out—otherwise they'd be too small. We are a bit later than last year—but still the quality looks great. Also, there are new trees producing honey crisp apples that are very popular and kicking out some great product this year, too."

Around 1980, Dennis Ashton and his wife, Sharon, purchased a 22-acre farm near Sashabaw and Seymour Lake roads in Brandon Township That same year, Dennis planted about 2,000 fruit trees on the farm. They're still thriving today and produce about 4,000 bushels of apples each year.

"It's true all right," said Dennis, of Ashtons Orchards, 3925 East Seymour Lake Road, Ortonville. "Last year we had no empire or McIntosh apples. It's definitely up over last year—part of the reason, too, is the winter was not so bad and there were plenty of blooms this past spring. Now it's heavy with apples."

Yet, despite the bumper crop of apples, don't expect lower prices.

"We don't typically comment on prices," said Whetsone. "The demand for some types of apples, including the honeycrisp, will continue to be high, so even if the supply is better, there's no guarantee the price will decline."

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