“Our crop was pretty similar to the rest of New York state,” Lee Peters, vice president of sales and marketing for Fowler Bros. Inc., in Wolcott, NY, told The Produce News. “There is no question that we are down in crop size, but despite the rumors in the marketplace, we are definitely doing business. At the end of the day, it’s going to be an OK year. It is absolutely not true that New York does not have apples.”
Mr. Peters said that it isn’t known exactly when the company will wrap up the year. In the past two years, it shipped into June because its customer base had grown, and at least part of why it will wrap up earlier this year is because it is doing a better job of marketing than in past years.
“We honestly do not know when we’ll be finished,” he emphasized. “Prices are stronger, which they have to be, of course. Producing half a crop costs the same as though it were a full crop because you’re still going through all of the processes of getting the crop grown, harvested and in-house.
“And this year’s strong demand, despite higher prices, is proof that consumers are learning more about the wonderful uses and benefits of apples, and are consequently willing to pay more,” he added.
Fowler's crop this season, Mr. Peters said, is of phenomenal quality coming out of storage.
“These apples are better than what we’ve seen in many years,” he said. “In a dry growing season, the sugars in the fruit increase and it makes a dense piece of fruit that stores good and eats like candy.”
In the fall of 2012, the company planted substantial acreage of new orchards. It typically increases its plantings by about 150 acres every fall, but it took a much bigger leap this time and planted much more than normal.
“We are still planting the conventional varieties, such as the Honey Crisp, Gala, McIntosh, Empire and Zestar,” said Mr. Peters. “The popularity and demand is across the board on all varieties, but the Gala is really doing outstanding currently. People really like its nice crunch and the sweet lingering after-flavor.”
Fowler Farms has been producing apples since 1858, and the sixth generation of family members are now at the helm.
“We’re planning for a long future and many more generations to come,” said Mr. Peters.