An investigation of New York’s bad apple season

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By Jessica Doran

The poor apple season has certainly put a damper on a usually ambitious tradition. The excitement to go apple picking as a kid is one of those traditions that remains exciting as an adult. Something about picking your own apples (and then having far too many apples than you could even imagine what to do with) has passed as a tradition that gets everyone excited for the onset of fall.

Being abroad in England last year made me excited for this season’s apple extravaganza. Temperatures in the fall in England are similar, but the gorgeous leaf-changing and falling that we experience doesn’t exist there. Fall is really just a lot of rain and brown colors. Needless to say, I was ready to get back for a true New York Fall, my favorite season.

Early in the spring of last year, however, there were warnings that this year’s apple season may not be as plentiful as we hoped. Extreme temperatures in March were too warm for the blossoms to successfully come up. If you combine this with extreme 20-degree temperatures that froze the blossoms that came up through the heat, the odds looked grim. Compounding these aspects to a third degree is the fact that this summer was one of the worst droughts in upstate New York’s history.

So when the weather got a little brisker and I was looking to pick a weekend to get as many apples as I could, I decided to do some research. Okay, my research wasn’t that extensive, but I did have to call the orchard before I left to make sure they were even offering picking! A group of friends and I decided to make the trip, although the woman at the orchard warned me that the wait to get into the orchard was about a half hour long.

Bowman Orchards is located at 141 Sugar Hill Road in Rexford, New York. The drive to the orchard was actually one of the greatest parts, driving over the Mohawk and then up into the hills provided one of the best views of the river I have ever seen. Changing trees lined the river, and the colors of fall surrounded me.

The wait to get into the orchard was a bit longer than expected, but we were determined to get in. We were one of the last cars allowed into the lot for the day. Bowman was one of the only orchards in the area (of which there are quite a few) that was actually offering picking. It seems that they somehow evaded the terrible demise of the season that so many other orchards could not? Why?

One reason may be that this season’s crop was based purely on chance and luck. I noticed that a type of irrigation system was watering some of the trees in the orchard at Bowman. Perhaps this is why their trees were more plentiful than other orchards. The country store at Bowman was also plentifully stocked: apple cider, donuts, pastries, butters, and other types of preserves lined the shelves in full force. Other orchards in the area have been unable to stock their stores or press enough apples to make enough cider to reach demand.

All in all, I was overly impressed with my experience at Bowman Orchards. They also offer hayrides, pumpkin picking, and other typical fall fun and games. It seems that they are doing a great job with what they were given this season. If you are planning a trip, make sure to get there in the next few weeks while there are still apples to pick!

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