Bear Swamp Orchard & Cidery


Certified Organic Hard Ciders and Apples

Looking forward to another pick your own season

After a wonky growing season, we are getting ready for harvest once again. We have spent the entire season holding our breath, waiting to see what the weather extreme of the moment meant for the apples. The trees had good blossom and fruit set, but dropped a lot of fruitlets in June; then with never ending rain they dropped a lot of leaves too, and while the remaining apples stayed on the trees they did not size up. So we have small apples this year. The rain interfered with spraying schedules, of course, so we are getting the full experience of being an organic orchard in terms of how attractive the apples are. But the season has ended with more sun, leading some trees to open new leaves in September; hopefully that will allow them to put some resources aside for next year. I even saw a tree in a neighboring town in blossom!

What does this mean for apple picking this year? There will be a small crop available on the Libertys our first weekend, September 21-23. We have a heavier Jonafree crop available the following weekends. The Cortlands also have some fruit, and will probably be ready the last weekend in September. We may not have enough apples to produce much fresh cider the first weekend we are open. But the apples should color up well, since light is getting into the trees unimpeded by leaves. We will definitely be open Columbus Day weekend, and since it falls early this year we may be open the following weekend. That will depend on ripening schedule of the Jonafree, and how many apples are still on the trees at that point.

As with any kind of farming, data on past growing seasons is a less reliable predictor of the present these days, as we experience the changes wrought by climate change. Apple crop size is down across our region this year, and the explanations vary widely. Mostly they come down to stresses on the trees that make them less able to commit resources to fruit, and in some cases they are not even surviving the stresses. We explore ways to support the trees in the face of these challenges, with lots of discussions with like-minded growers, so we can continue to grow apples into the future.
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