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After a limited amount of summer rainfall, orchards predict an abundance of small apples

Apple farmer Earl Bunting displays an apple, right, that was grown with irrigation compared to an apple, left, that was not irrigated. Due to this year's drought, “The ground is so dry, that trees weren’t getting the nutrients in the water that was necessary for them to size up. Some of the fruit varieties may not be as big as you normally may see them to be, but the flavor is definitely there,” said Sarah Bishop Dellaventura, one of the owners of Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford.
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Portland Press Herald
Apple farmer Earl Bunting displays an apple (right) that was grown with irrigation compared to one (left) that was not irrigated. Due to the drought, some of this year’s varieties may not be as big as usual. “The ground is so dry that trees weren’t getting the nutrients in the water that was necessary for them to size up ... but the flavor is definitely there,” said Sarah Bishop Dellaventura, one of the owners of Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford.

As most of the state continues to see moderate to severe drought levels, there were some questions about how that might affect crops. But at Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford, preparation has been key for these situations.

“Just like we need food and water as humans, it’s the same. It needs sunlight for the fruit trees. So we’ve had a lot of sun, we just haven't had a lot of rain,” said Sarah Bishop Dellaventura, one of the owners of Bishop’s Orchards. “We’ve been doing a lot of moving of irrigation pipes and pulling water from the irrigation ponds that we have on our farm, which has become more and more difficult, especially in the last couple of weeks. But we made it through.”

Bishop Dellaventura said that as the farm heads into prime pick-your-own season for fall, it’s fully stocked with pears, raspberries and, of course, apples this month.

What to expect

While the scant rainfall did not affect the availability of produce, it might affect the appearance.

“The ground is so dry that trees weren’t getting the nutrients in the water that was necessary for them to size up,” Bishop Dellaventura said. “Some of the fruit varieties may not be as big as you normally may see them to be, but the flavor is definitely there.”

In fact, they may be sweeter than normal, she added.

Apple picking at Bishop’s will also be complemented this fall with bounce pads, hay mazes, pumpkin picking, live music and more. Last year, the farm sold about 175,000 pounds of apples through the pick-your-own option. Due to the size of the apples this year, Bishop Dellaventura said they expect the weight sold to be less.

When is the best time to go? 

Bishop Dellaventura said the answer is different for everybody. The farm grows over 25 varieties of apples at any given time during the season. But they might be available at different times.

“It really all depends on what kind of apple you like and what you’re going to do with it, whether you’re going to eat it or if someone’s going to do something with it. Some apples are great for baking but aren’t so great for eating right off the tree.”

From early- to mid-September, Gala, McIntosh and Cortland are available.

For pickers interested in pears or raspberries, the best time to stop by is before the end of September when the temperatures might drop. The first big frost of the season is what usually kills raspberries.

“We've got something for everyone,” Bishop Dellaventura said.

For more information on the pick-your-own produce call 203-458-PICK.

Camila Vallejo is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. She is a bilingual reporter based out of Fairfield County and welcomes all story ideas at cvallejo@ctpublic.org.

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