2010-09-23 / Local & State

Apples Arrive Early In Some Parts

By Amanda Alexander

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) – Apples are ripening early across the state and, because of the early spring bloom and a few spring freezes, crops are limited this year at several local orchards.

Apples are arriving about 10 days ahead of schedule at orchards in the Williamsport area, and both small, appleonly orchards and larger multi-fruit farms have been affected by the early bloom.

John Lorson, co-owner of A.P. Lorson Fruit Farm in Williamsport, said the early bloom had orchard owners on edge.

“You’re always concerned, but this year you had to be more concerned because of the early stage,’’ he said.

The Lorson farm offers about 10 acres of apples in addition to cherries and peaches. Lorson estimates that the farm produces about 300 bushels of McIntosh and Cortland apples per year. Both brands are known to be slightly tart.

A few freezes after the early bloom left some minor damage to many of the apples.

“We have some apples that are damaged on the skin, where the frost came late and the apple was already formed,’’ Lorson said. “It kind of left a scar on them ... but it was only minor.’’

Otherwise, Lorson said, this year’s crop is about average in size and taste. The Lorson farm offers sweet cider besides freshly picked apples.

Daniel Steinbacher, owner of Steinbacher Orchards, said his crop was not affected by the freezes that hit this spring, even though his apples blossomed early.

“It got too warm in April,’’ he said, “but we got through it. They didn’t freeze.’’

Steinbacher Orchards grows about 20 acres of fruit, including peaches, cherries and pears. This year’s apple crop, which includes several varieties, was average in size, he added.

Another local orchard saw both positive and negative effects of the early ripening this year. Heather Loomis, co-owner of Bohlayer’s Orchards, Farmer’s Valley Road in Troy, said all the orchard’s 12 varieties of apples are arriving early this year.

“We are harvesting anywhere from 10 days to 14 days ahead of schedule,’’ she said. “It depends on our crop. Our crop was easily two weeks ahead of schedule.’’

Bohlayer’s grows 10 acres of apples besides its three acres of pears and two acres of peaches, producing some 5,000 bushels of apples a year.

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