Apples look good after warm weather, St. Lawrence County orchard owners say
Sunday, September 9, 2018 - 8:37 am

This branch snapped due to the large size of apples this year at Parishville Center Orchard. Other growers around the North Country have experienced the same issue. Photo by Gary Snell.

By MATT LINDSEY

How do you like them apples? Chances are St. Lawrence County residents will be pleased when apple picking this year, according to local growers.

The apple growing season got off to a good start for Gary Snell of Parishville Center Orchard.

He reports that he was not impacted by frost this spring, there was good pollination from bees and some late summer rain has helped his harvest.

Joel Howie of Canton Apples says his year started “questionable” as his blossoms were about a week later than last year.

July was a dry month, which made for a labor intensive summer providing water to keep apples growing, Snell said.

Howie too said that a dry July had him a bit worried, but Canton received ran when other parts of St. Lawrence County did not.

The hot summer that the North Country had, Snell says, was good for growing.

Howie agrees the heat benefits apples, saying that it makes them taste better.

“I haven’t seen apples like this in years,” Howie said, about the quality his crop has produced. “It’s been a great growing season.”

Snell said his Honeycrisp are almost too big, with some being too heavy for branches causing some to snap.

“As far as that broken Honeycrisp limb, we only have a couple of broken limbs on the Honeycrisp, I look at it as a fair trade off for the clean, large Honeycrisp we have this season.”

Howie says his larger than normal yield led him to do extra thinning to deter branches from breaking, while also allowing apples to grow larger in size versus a copiousness of smaller apples

Recent rain showers last month caused apples to size up even more, Snell said.

“I am definitely not complaining about it,” he said about his crop.

“For a reference for your readers, our Honeycrisp this season will range from baseball size up to as big as a softball by the time they are mature,” Snell said.

A drier climate is easier to grow apples in than a wet year, Snell said. Dry weather is better to help control blight. Blight a contagious disease affecting apples, pears and other fruits, can destroy an entire orchard in a single growing season.

One concern Snell still has is a hailstorm. “It puts dents in apples which opens them up to bugs,” he said.

Snell said he couldn’t ask for a better crop considering all the dry weather. He is optimistic about the crop for next year too, but knows that some factors.

“You can’t control what mother nature hands you,” Snell said.

U-pick opens Sept. 14, weekends only, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until apples are gone. Groups of 10 or more who wish to pick during the week can set up an appointment to visit the orchard.

Snell says his crop is mainly the popular Honeycrisp, as well as Cortland.

U-pick for Canton Apples, CR 25, begins Sept. 7. They will open Friday from noon to 6 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Howie also sells a variety of ciders. Flavors include apple with cranberry, plums, blueberry, grape, blackberries, pears and raspberries. They are available at retail stores across the county. For a list, and more info about Canton Apples, visit http://www.cantonapples.com/.

Howie has partnered with an upstart winery, Bregg Winery of Norfolk, that will make and sell hard ciders locally using his apples.

To set up a time, or speak with Snell, message him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ParishvilleCenterOrchardNY/ or call 315-212-7057. His orchard is located at 765 SH 72, and his roadside stand is at 702 SH 72.

Other apple orchards in the area include:

• Brookdale Apple Orchard, 1997 County Route 49, Winthrop, 389-5840 offering a roadside stand and u-pick apples

• Fobare’s, 180 Johnson Rd., Rensselaer Falls, 315-344-1207, 315-528-0052, info: https://www.fobaresfruits.com/.

• Goodwin’s Orchard, 37 Needham Rd., Potsdam, call 265-6161 for availability.

• J&W Orchard, 737 County Route 38, Norfolk, 384-2080,

• Merkley's U-Pick Apples, 4581 SH 68 (Dollar Road), Lisbon; Donald or Sara Merkley, 344-8880 or 528-0934.

• Kaneb Orchards, 182 Highland Rd., Massena 315-769-2880, www.kaneborchards.com.