Monday, October 27, 2008

The Apple Drop That Didn't Happen

This weekend, I had an extra half-hour to kill as I was driving through Southern Wisconsin so I decided to stop at Karberg Orchard just outside the town of Cambridge. My visit turned out to be very educational.

The orchard owner told me that this was his worst crop of apples in over 30 years. The reason he gave me was enlightening.

It was news to me that apple trees typically lose 10 to 20 percent of their apples just before summer begins. Apparently, this allows the trees to adequately supply moisture and nutrients to the apples that remain.

Unfortunately, this past June, southern Wisconsin received 15 inches of rain within the span of a week, just before the time when the "apple drop" would have occurred. This element of mother nature apparently threw Karberg's apple trees a curve, and those trees apparently misread the rain as a sign that they could support the growth of all of their existing apples. So virtually no apples fell to the ground.

The result, according to the owner, was that almost none of his apples grew to their normal size and some varieties didn't quite achieve the normal level of sweetness or tartness.

The Spartans I tasted were good, maybe a little more tart than usual. They would usually be uniformly red, but these had distinct hues of green and yellow. The cider was excellent, but, sure enough, most of his apples would roughly half their normal size. They were discounted to only 60 cents a pound.

Here's hoping that next year's crop brings better things for Karberg.

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