Most people have had it with the rain.
But guess what’s actually thriving in the cool, wet weather? Apples.
Rain delayed the start of the apple harvest. And out in western Carver County, some apple producers were hit by hail. One Watertown orchard reporting that 75 percent of the apples will have a blemish, according to Colleen Carlson, University of Minnesota Extension educator for Carver and Scott counties.
However, while apple customers might be impatient, waiting for their favorite varieties to come into season, David Bedford, senior research fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Horticultural Research Center at the Arboretum, sees this as a boom year for quality apples.
If anyone knows apples to the core, it’s Bedford, one of the foremost apple breeding experts in the country.
The rock star of apples, the Honeycrisp apple, was developed and cultivated under Bedford’s critical apple eye, patented in 1988 and released in 1991. It’s now the official state fruit of Minnesota and one of America’s most popular apples, known for its explosive crisp texture and sweet flavor.
While the growing season is running a little later than normal, Bedford acknowledged, “it’s not a disaster. We’re a week behind normal and in the scheme of things, the weather really hasn’t been a factor unless we have an early freeze.
“It’s normal and part of the ups and downs of the weather,” Bedford said. “But we will see this year as having the highest quality fruit in a long time. The color is beautiful, the size is nice and the flavor and texture are excellent.”
In spite of all the rain?
Bedford said the extra moisture’s been a good thing.
“As a long as the trees aren’t under water, all of this moisture has been good for the apple trees,” Bedford said. “It’s kept the trees well-hydrated and the cool weather at night has been good to color up the fruit, despite it being a misery for people.
“We’ve had the ideal conditions for growing apples this year. Like people, apple trees don’t do well under stress. If they don’t get enough moisture or if it’s too hot, it’s harder for them (apple trees) to do their job. They’ll survive but the fruit pays for the stress. So this year, is a low stress year for the trees which then tend to make nice fruit.”