Iowa apple orchards seeing bumper crop

Weather contributed to strong growing season

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The apples are so heavy this year at Allen’s Orchard in Marion, some of the trees have fallen down.

In other words, the 2016 crop is very, very good.

“It’s a bumper crop. We’re rocking and rolling,” owner Chris Gensicke said.

The orchard, at 5801 N. 10th St., is in full apple-picking season, as are other you-pick orchards in the Corridor. Now through October, until the first frost, customers can pick their fill of apples at places like Allen’s Orchard and Wilson’s Orchard, at 4823 Dingleberry Road NE in Iowa City.

“We’ve never had a crop as big as this. Each tree seems determined to produce as much as possible,” said Wilson’s co-owner Paul Rasch.

He attributes the success to a season of exceptionally favorable weather. There were a couple of early scares with frost, but the trees emerged almost unscathed, he said, meaning few of the spring buds were lost. Plenty of rain has helped the apples grow larger than normal.

“We’ve had really ideal growing conditions. The size of each apple is pretty huge this year,” he said.

The apple harvest actually started in July, with the main part of the season ramping up now and peaking in about the third week of September.

With more than 100 varieties of apples at Wilson’s and more than 2,500 trees growing at Allen’s, there are apples for every taste, from tart to sweet and juicy to crunchy. This is the prime time to get fan-favorite “eating apples” like honeycrisps; the earlier season apples tend to be more tart. The current trend of bright days and cool nights are helping the apples develop more complex flavors, Rasch said.

In October, apples meant for longer term storage will ripen.

“If you store them for a few weeks or a month, they develop more complex flavors,” he said.

Rasch is currently picking burgundies, which are good for pies, as are Jonathans, which will ripen later this month.

“What we’re excited about this year is normally you have certain varieties that do really well,” he said. “This year, pretty much every variety is doing well.”

IF YOU GO:

Allen’s Orchard

5801 N. 10th St., Marion

Open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

allensorchard.net; (319) 377-1408

Wilson’s Orchard

4823 Dingleberry Rd. NE, Iowa City

Open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

wilsonsorchard.com, (319) 354-5651

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