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Wisconsin orchards bouncing back after poor harvest

6:26 PM, Aug. 15, 2013  |  Comments
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FOND DU LAC, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin apple growers hoping to bounce back from one of their worst harvests in more than six decades said they are optimistic given this year's nearly ideal weather.

Last year's apple harvest was the smallest since 1945 and only half as big as the year before, according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service. Apple production was hurt when trees blossomed early in a warm spring, only to be hit by a late frost. The drought that followed didn't help.

But apple growers say weather this year has been nearly ideal, and their orchards are benefiting.

"(Last year) we only had 10 percent of what we normally get, and the apples were so bad you would not have thought that I was in the business of growing apples," said Lisa Klein, owner of Armstrong Apples in Armstrong. "This year it's great. They're just beautiful."

Picking has already started at some orchards, like the Little Farmer northeast of Fond du Lac.

"It's nice to see some red on the trees," General Manager Jeremy Klemp told The Reporter Media.

Orchards are generally open for apple picking from mid-August through October. Many offer other activities as well, such as pumpkin patches, animals to pet and wagon rides, along with cider, baked goods and other apple products.

Armstrong Apples opened a winery, featuring beverages made from apples and peaches, a few years ago, Klein said. She was among those hoping that a good harvest would bring in large crowds this fall and help make up for last year.

"We're just ready to go," Klein said.

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