Apple farmers thankful for recent rains

August 30, 2018

Storms packing heavy winds and rain have hit the area the past couple of days, uprooting trees, downing power lines and producing several inches of rain.

The rain was much needed by area fruit farmers, specifically apple growers in Mason and Oceana counties, according to David Jones, Fruit Tree Extension educator for the West Central Region.

“In terms of crop development, we have seen a little bit of small fruit,” he said. “But the rain that we have had recently is really going to help with that.”

Jones said some small fruit — apples that will be sold for juice or sauce — might still be visible in the processing acreage, but he thinks the rain will help increase the size of those apples.

“The rain is good for us,” said Red Christofferson, a local fresh market farmer who grows a variety of fruit like apples and peaches. “This will help the apples grow. It is the hot weather and high humidity that causes fungus to grow on our peaches; you get sugar, water and heat, and the fungus really picks up.”

The Christoffersons are currently picking peaches and Zestar apples, an early apple which is really growing well, he said. The Christoffersons have more than 20 varieties of peaches that they pick from their roughly 30 acres dedicated to fruit.

“The Zestar is a sister to the Honey Crisp,” Christofferson said.

“Most of the fresh market fruit out there is under irrigation,” Jones said. “For folks at the grocery story, it is not like you are going to see small fruit. Most of the fresh market varieties are looking excellent right now, and the crops look good. There will be plenty of fresh local fruit in both Mason and Oceana counties.”

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