Area apple crops have done poorly due to a warm winter, early frosts and a hot, dry summer, and many farms are entirely without apples in the region.
Jane Falcone of Falcone Farms in Forestville said it's been a very bad year. When asked about the harvest, she replied, "Well, there is no crop."
She said after the warm winter and late frosts after a March warm-up, "There's nothing out there."
Falcone noted the previous owner of her farm told her he had "never seen anything like this, and has been in the county for more than 50 years" she explained. "Last year wasn't the best crop either, but at least we could open up and do something."
The lack of an apple harvest forced the Falcone Farm to make other decisions, too.
"Normally we carry fresh pressed cider and fall produce, but we decided not to plant fall crops," so the market will not open with cold weather vegetables or apples and apple products, Falcone told the OBSERVER.
Falcone said their farming operation had a fair bean crop, which they plant across about 2,000 acres in various locations around Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.
"Those did kind of well, but they're a very different kind of crop," she explained.
However, the farm had no cherry crop and lost 70 percent of its grapes. She is concerned about future fruit crops as well.
"Hopefully this isn't a trend, because they're saying we might be in for a warm winter," she said.
Norman Carlson, publicity chair of the Busti Historical Society, said the scant harvest caused problems for the annual Busti Apple Harvest Festival. Apples were purchased from growers in the Medina area.
"It caused our cost for apples - the prices we paid - more than double. We were restricted as to the varieties we were able to get," Carlson said, and added some varieties originally promised were not delivered.
Problems with apple crops this year are not limited to the region, or even to the state. Poor or non-existent crops were reported across New York and other states in the Northeast. Ontario Apple Growers Association reported as much as 88 percent of apple crops lost. Vermont officials called their state's harvest "good" but "variable" and advised consumers to call ahead to orchards due to variability and demands from outside the region. However, officials from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources report "the state's apple orchards have survived a tough year and have come out with a good crop of apples, even as national stories describe challenges in states as close as Michigan and New York."
In Michigan, up to 90 percent of the state's crops were reportedly wiped out. Michigan's governor Rick Snyder said, "This is the worst natural disaster to strike Michigan's agricultural industry in more than 50 years."
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