Although not ideal for agriculture, the cold, wet spring ended Clover Leonard's drought on apples.
Two years had passed at Leonard's orchard on Ross Lane — blighted by unseasonable frost — with hardly an apple to be had. But the trees weathered the worst of this year's late-spring chill, which inhibited pollinators, and produced enough fruit to satisfy Leonard's loyal U-pick customers.
"When I sent out my mass emails this year, they were thrilled," she says.
Gravensteins, picked earlier this month, were a "good" crop, and Leonard says she expects much of the same from her Golden Delicious trees, which make up a third of her three-and-a-half-acre orchard in west Medford.
Mealy and tasteless in supermarkets, she says, Golden Delicious are a different fruit altogether when tree-ripened — crisp and flavorful. Fujis and Newtown Pippins weren't quite as prolific but will be ready to pick after the first frost, says Leonard.
The same apples grow — along with numerous heirloom varieties — at Medford's Fox Run Farm. But most of this year's fruit will be graded No. 2, meaning the apples are better suited to cooking, says Duane Goodman, farm co-owner with wife Laura.
"The weather did us in," says Duane Goodman, explaining that orchardists, farmers and even backyard gardeners around the valley saw fewer pollinators this year.
With about half of their trees fruitless, the Goodmans plan just one cider pressing in October instead of the three or four in typical years. The single pressing, says Duane Goodman, should yield several hundred half-gallon bottles. Last year's price was $6.50 per bottle.
Picking already has started in the one-and-a-half-acre orchard at 3842 W. Main St. The Goodmans are letting some apples hang a bit longer in hopes recent hot weather will help them "size up."
Prices are 29 to 79 cents per pound, depending on variety; no U-pick. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday until the end of November. Call 541-608-7886.
Leonard plans to open her orchard at 2171 Ross Lane from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this weekend to U-pickers. The price is 50 cents per pound. Call 541-772-2389.
No matter the type of apple, take them beyond pie and sauce with these recipes.
Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.