Ontario’s apple crop volume will be slightly lower this year compared to last, but the fruit will be larger, juicier, and more colourful.
That’s what Ontario’s apple growers are seeing as they prepare to harvest the 2017 crop along the shores of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. It’s the drought that struck many of the province’s apple growing regions in 2016 that is causing Ontario’s fresh market apple crop to be approximately 20 per cent less than last year.
“Our trees suffered from extreme drought last year and they haven’t had a chance to recover,” says apple grower Charles Stevens, who farms near Newcastle, Ontario. “All the rain we’ve had this year, though will mean larger, juicier apples with great colour because cool weather creates colour. And we’ll have plenty of apples available throughout the season for Ontarians to enjoy.”
Consumers may see some apples with small dents, which were caused by hail earlier in the summer, but those don’t take away from the flavour or the juiciness of the fruit. Some early varieties are already available and most growers will begin the bulk of their apple harvest in early September, just in time for back to school.
Stevens encourages Ontarians to keep an eye out for the Ambrosia apple this year, a relatively new variety that was discovered by chance by a Canadian apple grower who found it growing in his British Columbia orchard. It’s a large, juicy fruit that is ideal for eating fresh.
“Ambrosia is the sweetest apple that we grow in Ontario and it’s truly Canadian, made by Mother Nature herself,” Stevens says. “As we celebrate Canada 150 this year, there’s not a better time to try this new, Canadian-born apple.”
There are approximately 15 different varieties of apples grown on 15,000 acres in Ontario. The farm gate value of the Ontario apple crop is approximately $60 million, which includes sales to fresh and processing markets as well as on-farm/pick-your-own.
The Ontario Apple Growers represents the province’s 200 commercial apple farmers. Visit www.onapples.com for recipe ideas and grower profiles.