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Big Apple’s apple harvest set to start mid-August

New York state’s apple harvest is anticipated to get under way Aug. 15, right on schedule, and growers are expecting this year’s crop to be a strong encore to last year’s vintage yield. Meanwhile, an all-new consumer website dedicated to New York state apples offers variety information, recipes and locator maps to help find local apples.

Apple growers from across the state report that they have had excellent growing conditions this year, beginning with a late spring and near-perfect pollination weather. They describe ample summer sun and the right amount of rain. As a result, this year’s apples will be large and juicy, with high levels of natural fruit sugars. Fans can also expect to find abundant supplies of their favorite varieties, including Honeycrisp and Gala, and New York’s own Empire and McIntosh.

Growers from across the state forecasted the 2014 crop at 30 million bushels during a July 25 conference call hosted by their trade group, New York Apple Association. That forecast is slightly smaller than last year’s vintage crop of 32 million bushels, but is above the state’s five-year average of 29.5 million bushels as recent new plantings begin to produce fruit. The final crop size may actually be larger, as fruit continues to size leading up to harvest.

“We grow more apples than other states east of the Mississippi, so New Yorkers don’t need to look any further than right here to find great apples,” Jim Allen, NYAA president, said in a press release. “We truly are the Big Apple.”

Harvest will begin with early-season varieties, including Ginger Gold and Paula Red, and will end in November with late-season varieties such as McIntosh. Harvest will get under way first in the lower Hudson Valley and march northward to the upper Champlain Valley over coming weeks. Apples are grown in six major areas across the state: Champlain Valley; Eastern and Western Hudson Valley; Central, from Broome to Onondaga to St. Lawrence counties; Lake Country; and the Niagara Frontier.

To find new-crop apples, visit a local pick-your-own orchard, farm market or your favorite retailer. The all-new consumer website, www.nyapplecountry.com, features locator maps right on the home page to connect New Yorkers with local orchards and farm markets. New York state apples can also be found in area groceries.

The new website includes profiles of dozens of top New York state varieties and almost 100 recipes. A large nutrition section is introduced by NYAA Consulting Dietitian Linda Quinn. The website is also smartphone and tablet friendly.

“Anything you might reasonably want to know about New York state apples, you can find it here — we’ve done all the work for you,” said Allen.