THERE’S GOOD NEWS for apple lovers! Despite drought conditions that have impacted much of the six-state region, most New England orchards expect a good harvest this summer and fall.
The 2022 New England fresh apple forecast of about 3.2 million 42-pound boxes (the modern equivalent of a bushel) is down about 10 percent from the five-year average of 3.5 million boxes. That means there will be plenty of apples in a wide range of varieties and sizes.
According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service in New England, about three-quarters of the region’s apple growers report a “good” or “excellent” crop. The drought may mean more smaller apples than usual, but there are major exceptions, and rain over the next few weeks may help later varieties size up before harvest.
In addition to the drought, last year’s crop was larger than usual, and trees tend to produce fewer apples the following year as they recover from the added stress.
Yet most growers are reporting plenty of apples, and the trees’ deep roots enable them to withstand drought conditions more easily than field crops. Many orchards also have ponds and irrigation systems in place.
The harvest is fully underway. Check our Orchard Finder for a list of some of New England’s finest orchards, and be sure to scroll down to see a list of the apples they grow.
As always, call ahead to see what’s available before your visit.
Here is a state-by-state estimate:
Connecticut expects to harvest more than 500,000 boxes, down about 15 percent from its five-year average year of 600,000 boxes.
Maine is looking at a good crop overall, close to its five-year average of 1,000,000 boxes. While the drought has impacted orchards in southern Maine, much of the state’s apple-growing regions have received adequate moisture.
Massachusetts has been very dry, and after last year’s large crop, volume is expected to be 850,000 boxes, about 15 percent below the state’s five-year average of 1,000,000 boxes.
New Hampshire also predicts a crop about 85 percent of its average of 440,000 boxes, or 375,000 boxes.
Rhode Island estimates a smaller-than-usual crop, or about 38,000 boxes compared to its five-year average of 45,000 boxes.
Like Maine, most of Vermont’s apple growers have received adequate rain, especially in the northern part of the state, and should come close to their five-year average of 400,000 boxes.
The crop is largely on schedule, and as August turns to September, cooler nights will help the apples gain their full color and flavor.
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THIS IS A RARE TIME in the New England orchard. In addition to apples, many berries and tree fruits are ripe now at many orchards, including nectarines, peaches, pears, and plums.
They vary widely in season, color, and flavor; if you are looking for a particular variety, get to know its unique taste and texture, when it ripens, and who grows it.