By Tom Collins
Apple yields were all over the map in Western Ontario, with growers hauling in below average to near record yields.
Ontario Apple Growers said this year’s yield will be slightly below last year as trees are still stressed from the 2016 drought. But the apples are larger, juicier and more colourful, the apple growers said.
Doug Balsillie, who grows 20 acres of apples at Harrow in Essex County, said he’s got a near-record crop.
“Outside of some little minor hiccups, it’s been a perfect year,” he said, adding many apple growers in the south half of Essex County would say they’ve had a pretty good crop. “If I had to write down in March how I wanted the year to flow, this would have been pretty much it.”
While there were some minor disease issues in the spring because of the high amount of rain, it was a pretty dry season overall. He uses drip irrigation with water going right to the root and has irrigated on more days this year than last year when most of the province was in a drought.
Harold Wagner, of Wagner Orchards and Estate Winery at Lakeshore in the north part of Essex County, said he was in for a slightly-below average yield.
“The real challenge we had was in the spring when the weather was cold and rainy and windy. The bees weren’t flying,” he said. However, size and quality is good. “The total number of apples, we’re going to have less. The size has made up for some of that. Big apples take up a lot of space in the bag.”