Apple Production Down in New York

Apple Production Down in NY
Erin (WENY) -- Apple production is down across New York due to weather conditions, forcing local growers to increase prices and close orchards early. An April frost, a hot summer and recent hail and wind storms have hurt Southern Tier apple farmers' bottom line, but they have high hopes for next year.

The April frost prevented 60 percent of trees from pollinating because the blossoms froze. Then a dry summer kept apples from growing to normal size, and hail storms put holes in whatever was left. StoneyRidge Orchards in Erin is just one of the many apple farms across the state with a shortage and damaged apple crop this year. Growers were forced to raise prices -- some charging $8 a gallon for cider.

"We did a little bit, but not that much," said Liz Heppner of StoneyRidge Orchards in regards to raising prices. "We were very fortunate to get what we did. We have a lot of local, loyal customers come every year, and we just didn't feel it was right to put the prices too high because then you wouldn't have as good customer base."

StoneyRidge cider went up by 50 cents a gallon, and a bushel of apples rose by a dollar.

"I did notice that the price was quite a lot higher," said customer John Earley. "When you have apples and other people don't, as a small business, you need to take that opportunity, but we don't mind."

"Prices are pretty high in the stores, and being on a budget, you really want to watch your money," said customer Karen Benjamin. "Coming out to pick apples is a good way to save your money and spend time with your family."

Despite low production, StoneyRidge saw more customers because some other Southern Tier orchards had no apples for people to pick at all.

"It was a tough year overall, but we had a lot of support from our customers, friends and neighbors," said Heppner. "We feel like it's always going to be better -- we hope."

StoneyRidge owners said they haven't calculated their losses yet, but as most farmers do, they have a cushion of money saved for tough seasons like this.