Minnesota apple harvest in full swing
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Fall is in full swing and so is Minnesota’s apple season. Early season Minnesota hardy varieties like Honeycrisp, Zestar!®, SweeTango®, Sweet Sixteen and Cortland are now available for picking, while traditional Minnesota favorites like Haralson, Regent, McIntosh and Honeygold will ripen later this month. Apple orchards are now open, with limited hours continuing into the end of November or later. Many local grocery stores will also carry Minnesota grown varieties throughout the fall.
Weather conditions throughout the 2016 season resulted in some crop loss for some producers, but most apple orchards are ready for visitors. This year’s overall crop is expected to be slightly smaller than average, so visiting a local orchard or market early in the season is recommended.
John Jacobson of Pine Tree Apple Orchard in White Bear Lake summarized the spring and summer growing season, with a hopeful outlook for fall harvest.
“This year was especially challenging for many apple growers. Most growers lost at least some of their crop due to a mid-May freeze and some faced additional losses because of severe weather like high winds and hail,” said Jacobson. “Despite these challenges, Minnesotans will still find plenty of crisp, juicy, locally grown apples at their favorite orchards, farmers markets and grocery stores.”
According to Minnesota Grown’s Agricultural Marketing Specialist Jessica Miles, a trip to the apple orchard is about more than just picking apples.
“Taking the family to the orchard is a great way to get kids outside and help them understand where their apples come from and how they grow,” Miles said. “Apple orchards are open for business with fresh apple cider, fall raspberries, pumpkins, squash and other seasonal favorites to enjoy. Some even have fun family activities like hay wagon rides, animals, tours and crop mazes.”
Weather conditions can vary drastically throughout Minnesota and orchard owners recommend calling or checking websites in advance to verify hours and check availability of local apple varieties.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Grown Directory is a free, statewide guide to more than 120 apple orchards. The Directory also includes a comprehensive list of fall raspberry patches, corn mazes, wineries and more. You can search the Directory online at http://links.govdelivery.com:80/track?type=click&enid=ZWFzPTEmbXNpZD0mYXVpZD0mbWFpbGluZ2lkPTIwMTYwOTIyLjY0MTI0ODgxJm1lc3NhZ2VpZD1NREItUFJELUJVTC0yMDE2MDkyMi42NDEyNDg4MSZkYXRhYmFzZWlkPTEwMDEmc2VyaWFsPTE2ODU2MjQwJmVtYWlsaWQ9aW5mb0ByZWRsYWtlbmF0aW9ubmV3cy5jb20mdXNlcmlkPWluZm9AcmVkbGFrZW5hdGlvbm5ld3MuY29tJnRhcmdldGlkPSZmbD0mZXh0cmE9TXVsdGl2YXJpYXRlSWQ9JiYm&&&100&&&http://www.minnesotagrown.com or order a free printed copy by calling 1-888-TOURISM.