Sweet Year Expected for Apple Orchards - WSET.com - ABC13

Sweet Year Expected for Apple Orchards

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Monroe, VA - This year's apple crop is expected to be even sweeter.

Orchard owners say recent weather is creating plumper and juicier fruit.

The orchard business is no longer just about selling fruit. It's about selling an experience.

"We started out with this little creature called Harvey Hayworm," Scott Barnes said of the hay bale character at Morris Orchard.

Stevi Young drove all the way form Charleston, SC to hand pick her own apples.

"I've been coming since my son was in kindergarten and he's 26 now," Young said laughing.

Morris Orchard began offering pick-your-own apples and hosting fall festivals because when mother nature is unreliable, diversifying your product is key.

John Benner is the Amherst County Extension Agent.

"I'd say it would be around an average year," Benner said of the apple crop.

Benner says Crispin and Jonagold apples were hurt by early rains while Granny Smith, Fuji and Red Delicious benefited from drier weather later in the season.

The sunshine and the cool weather has really made the apples size up well and have good color," Barnes added.

Virginia is the sixth largest producer of apples in the country, worth tens of millions of dollars.

"Every year has its challenges and things we have to work around. But if we have every year like this, we'll be happy," Barnes said.

A good yield for Barnes could mean more cider for you.

"The scenery up here is gorgeous. The apples are great. Price you can't beat. We just love it," added Susan Harrison of Forest.

Barnes says pumpkins did not fare so well because of rain earlier in the season.  He recommends buying quickly, before the good ones run out.

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