VIRGINIA APPLE HARVEST IS UNDERWAY AND THE CROP IS EXCELLENT

virginiaThe Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) says the 2013 apple crop is excellent and harvest is coming along nicely. Orchardists have been picking apples since August when the early varieties started ripening, but the apple season is now coming into its prime season. Virginia apples will be available at pick-your-own farms, farmers’ markets, grocery stores and roadside stands in full abundance until November or even later.

This year’s crop is excellent, aided in part by an unusually rainy summer. “The rain has been good for apples,” said Matthew Lohr, VDACS Commissioner. “They have great flavor, good size and that bright color that says ‘autumn’ to many people.” Lohr adds that this year’s apples are relatively blemish free, good news for growers who prefer to sell fresh apples rather than send them for processing into sauce, slices, juice, vinegar or other products.

Apples are big business in Virginia. The state boasts more than 150 commercial growers, including the National Apple Grower of the Year for 2013, Cordell Watt from Timber Ridge Fruit Farm in Gore, Virginia. The state also boasts many pick-your-own farms that sell directly to the consumer.

Consumers wanting to pick their own apples straight from the tree will find farms across the state at VirginiaGrown.com. They can select by zip code or county. Many people plan their fall color tours around apples, picking their own or attending a festival. Click here for a month-by-month listing of food festivals statewide.

Besides providing the ideal location for a fall outing, apples are also a low-calorie, healthy snack option. They are full of fiber and vitamin C and can help regulate blood sugar, reduce the chance of developing diabetes and reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.