An apple a day
Apples have been in abundant supply this year, according to regional apple growers, but not without some leftover damage from last year’s heavy snowfall in April following an early warming spell that brought blooms out early.
Heather Loomis, co-owner of Bohlayer’s Orchards in Troy, said this year some varieties “cropped very well” but some “suffered too much and cropped intermittently.”
“When we had that 5 inches of heavy, wet snow it did a tremendous amount of damage to our leaves as well and they never regenerated and without them, they don’t have the energy to generate the fruit buds for the following year,” she explained.
Next year, though, she said they will likely “come back with a vengeance.”
“If you have a limited crop one year, that tree will set out extra fruit buds for the next year,” she added.
Using only natural and certified organic sprays on their fruit, Loomis reported that some of the varieties that did well this year were the Northern Spy and Idared, which she said produced a “really nice crop,” as well as McIntosh and Cortlands.
But the Jonagolds “got hit really hard.”
“For our store we would often pick 200 bushel. This year there is probably only about 30 bushels of those (Jonagolds),” she said.
Most of the crop was left on the trees for their “pick-your-own” customers, Loomis said.
“They are really good for eating, pie and sauce. Crispy and real sweet,” she said.
“As long as the weather behaves itself we should be OK,” she added.
Pears and apples will be available through the end of the month and possibly into November, she said.
Bohlayer’s is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday during apple season only,
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August through December; by appointment beginning January. Weekday school tours are welcome with reservations.
Apple varieties offered include Quinte, Red Melba, McIntosh, Jonamac, Cortland, Gala, Macoun, Empire, Jonagold, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Northern Spy, Red Spy, Idared, Melrose and Mutsu.
Ray Marshalek, owner of Marshalek’s Fruit Farm, 1875 Quaker State Road in Montoursville, said his crop turned out “fairly well” this year, compared to last year.
“It was better than last year. We were down but not as bad as a lot of people were. We had more of an average year,” he said.
Marshalek’s grows about 40-45 acres of fruit, with 70 percent apples, including about a dozen different varieties, such as Honey Crisp, Gala, McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Cortland, Empires, Jonagold and Macoun.
“The most popular are Honey Crisp, Gala and Macs,” he said.
For Marshalek’s, the apple harvesting begins in August with an early variety, Ginger Gold.
“They are a good multi-purpose apple. Good eating, bakes well, you can do anything with it. For an August apple, it is a real winner,” he said.
The harvest usually finishes up with Idared as the last big crop of apples, he added.
The last apple harvested is “our one and only Granny Smith tree, about the last week of October, so we will probably pick those soon,” he said.
Marshalek’s predominantly sells “what we grow; it is a farm based enterprise,” he said.
“We don’t really bring a lot of items in from outside except local honey and maple syrup but, for the most part if it’s here, we grow it,” he added.
Offering locally grown produce has been “really successful for us,” Marshalek said.
“It comes right from our field. We start with peaches, nectarines and plums in mid-July and start apple harvest in mid-August,” he said.
Also sold at the stand are winter, acorn and butternut squash and sweet cider.
Marshalek’s is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. It is closed Sundays through February and March.
“We normally have a good selection of apples through January, and then we usually have product such as cider through March,” he said.
Marshalek’s is 3 miles from Montoursville.