Streams

Apples are Ripe for the Picking in NY, NJ Despite Irene's Wrath

Monday, September 19, 2011

Apple-picking season is underway in New York and New Jersey, despite the damage from Tropical Storm Irene.

John Melick, co-owner of Melick's Town Farm in Oldwick, N.J., said some summer vegetables that grow close the ground — like zucchini, tomato and squash — suffered due to heavy rain. But the apples hung on, he said, despite predictions for high winds.

"Fortunately, the wind speeds never developed to the point where they did damage to the trees," he said. "The apples were still hanging tightly to the branches, and the wind speeds weren't sufficient enough to start tipping them over."

Melick said he's still keeping a close eye on other fall crops, including pumpkins, that may be damaged to due the heavy amount of rain this season. He said it's still to early to tell, but that over-saturated ground can increase the risk for disease.

Upstate New York also received heavy rain due to Irene and other storms this season.

Sharon Wilklow, owner of Wilklow Orchards in Hudson Valley, said some of her crops were damaged by heavy amounts of rain — including about seven acres of tomatoes.

But she said most of the apple trees are in good shape, and she considers herself lucky. "We didn't do too bad," she said. "The apples look pretty nice. We have some that are splitting from excess rain. But generally, it's a beautiful crop."

Wilklow said even those split apples are safe to eat — but only right away, because the splits can cause them to rot more quickly, giving them a shorter shelf-life.

The orchard is still doing some cleanup after the storm, which soaked fields and took out a bridge connecting parts of the orchard.

Wilklow also said one of the orchard's four pumpkin fields was flooded, and fears that she may have lost some of those pumpkins. But she said the three other fields look good, and she's hopeful they'll be ripe for the picking soon.

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