This season marked the seventh rainiest fall in the metro area in since 1871.
The sun has rarely shined on Minnesotans this autumn, and rain caused flooding and a slight change in apple crops at the Minnesota Harvest Orchard near Jordan.
Rob Fisk, apple cider maker at the orchard, said heavy rainfall caused their apples to be much juicier. For the taproom’s inaugural year, rainfall made fermenting cider a bit trickier — too much juiciness can lower the sugar content, decreasing the amount of alcohol. But Fisk made it work.
Since Sept. 1, 9.84 inches of rain has fell at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, 4.96 inches above normal, said Jacob Beitlich, a Chanhassen National Weather Service meteorologist.
“So that’s the most we’ve had since 1968, which is 50 years ago,” Beitlich said. “So this is probably the wettest fall so far that most people have seen in their lifetime just based on those numbers.”
Beitlich attributed the rain to a stagnant storm track with lots of low pressure systems bringing clouds and rain.
“If you remember, we were really cloudy in the last half of September and the first half of October,” he said. “That pattern just kind of stalled overhead and that brought several chances of showers and thunderstorms and it all piled up into almost 10 inches of rain since Sept. 1.”
Abnormally heavy rain isn’t always a good thing for apples, Fisk said.
“You want a normal amount of rain, you don’t want it to be a drought,” Fisk said. “If you get a lot of rain in the fall, it waters down the juice a little bit, so the apples are almost too juicy to some degree.”
This marks Fisk’s third apple season and he makes the hard ciders out of more than 40 varieties in the orchard.
The juiciness can lower the sugar content, diluting the flavor. The more sugar, the more alcohol, Fisk said.
The Oct. 14 snowfall didn’t hurt the apples — it’s more about the temperature, he said.
“Until you get down to about 25 degrees you’re OK,” Rob Fisk said. “Up north in the northern orchards, they got hit, they got 23 degrees up there.”
He thinks the apples will be good for another couple of weeks.
The taproom is new this year at Minnesota Harvest Orchard, and Fisk said apple cider has gained popularity.
“It’s definitely taken off,” Fisk said. “A lot more people are interested in trying it — it’s growing for sure.”
The regular apple cider is their most popular, and they also have cherry infused cider, making it sweet. Fisk loves experimenting with flavors.
“That’s what I like about it, that you never know what you’re going to get at the end,” he said.
Fisk said there can be thousands of people at the orchard on the weekends and they plan to be open into the first week of November for apple picking. The taproom will stay open longer afterwards.
Minnesotans will continue to see rain, Beitlich said. He predicts rainfall will resume on Thursday, Oct. 25, and continue with a chance of rain daily through the end of the month.
On a reasonably warm crispy fall day, Rachel Corcoran of Shakopee took her children apple picking across 120 acres of trees.
One of the state’s largest “you pick” orchards, Minnesota Harvest Orchard is an autumn paradise, framed by a small ravine and fiery, orange trees near Jordan.
The almost 50-year-old orchard sells whole apples, apple juice, apple chips and apple cider — which is new this year.
This is her second year taking her children Ava, 11, and Keira, 8, to the orchard. Since they had school off, Ava brought her friend Kailey, too.
Already they had explored the corn maze, ate cinnamon rolls and drank hot cider.
Corcoran loves that the orchard feels natural and not commercialized. Last year, they picked a bag of about 30 apples, and couldn’t eat them all.
“It was quite a bit,” Corcoran said and laughed.
Correction: An earlier version wrote that 1968 was 60 years ago, it was 50 years ago. The Jordan Independent regrets the error.