Orchards offering enough Minnesota grown apples to meet autumn appetites | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Orchards offering enough Minnesota grown apples to meet autumn appetites

Posted: September 13, 2012 - 4:28pm

There is good news for Minnesota apple lovers this fall despite a tricky growing season that featured spring frosts.

While the difficult spring conditions led to a smaller crop this year for many orchards, some growers are reporting an early and great crop.

“Most of our apples were not yet in bloom during the April frost events, and that helped protect our crop,” said Karl Townsend, owner of Dassel Hillside Farm, near Dassel, in a news release. “We’re in the middle of an excellent harvest, including the ever popular Honeycrisp, and we encourage customers to come out.”

Joe Carlson, owner of Carlson’s Orchard Bakery and Restaurant in Winsted, is another one of several Minnesota orchards with an excellent apple crop.

“My crop is one of the largest on record — second only to the crop of 2009.” said Carlson. “My biggest concern is that reports of the April freeze will discourage consumers from visiting their local orchard.”

Ralph Yates owns Fruit Acres in La Crescent and also serves as Secretary of the Minnesota Apple Growers Association.  He explained that while the spring frost took a toll across the Midwest, Minnesota orchards are open for business with high-quality apples available.

“While the overall apple harvest in the Midwest will be smaller than normal, consumers need to know that there are local apples available at orchards across Minnesota,” Yates said. “In fact, it’s common for growers with large crops to sell apples to growers who need to supplement their own harvest.”

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Paul Hugunin reminds Minnesotans it’s an early season and consumers should be out visiting farms now.

“The key thing to know this year is that each orchard is unique in terms of what impact, if any, the April freeze had on their crop, what varieties they grow and what other products and activities they offer,” Hugunin said. “That’s why it’s always a good idea to call your orchard before heading out, but especially this year. Growers will be happy to tell you what they have available now, what’s coming up and what their crop looks like.”

The Minnesota Grown Directory makes it easy to find an apple orchard near you. With more than 110 apple orchards in Minnesota, even as far north as Grand Rapids, you are sure to have plenty of options. Search the Directory online at www.minnesotagrown.com or order a free printed copy by calling 1-888-TOURISM.