Fitchburg orchard sees better crop than expected - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Fitchburg orchard sees better crop than expected


FITCHBURG (WKOW) -- Most apples are ready a few weeks ahead of schedule this season and one local orchard is thankful for what they do have on their trees.

After a particularly difficult season, Eplegaarden has about 40 to 50 percent of their crop. "We feel very fortunate that we have apples to sell," says Vern Forest, who owns Eplegaarden with his wife, Betty.

The Fitchburg farm is now open for visitors who want to buy or pick apples but just a few months ago, Vern Forest was worried there wouldn't be enough to go around.

"March was hot and the blossoms came out, the leaves came out then April brought frost," Forest says. What followed was an extremely dry May, June and July. Back in April, Forest told 27 News he expected a 25 percent crop. That number has since changed to 50 or 60 percent.

It's the rain in late July that saved some of Eplegaarden's apples. "The trees just soaked up the moisture and put size on the apples," Orchard Manager Rami Aburomia says.

Some apples did better than others. Forest says Honey Crisp, one of the farm's most popular saw about an 80 percent loss.

"Here at Eplegaarden, we have probably lost something like, well maybe $100,000 at least in sales, maybe a lot more," Forest says. "It's significant," he continues. But even a significant loss is a lot better than what they originally expected.

"It's amazing that they held on to their apples with all that tree stress," Aburomia says. Forest is optimistic about next year, "We will make it, you bet and next year, you expect to go into the spring and you expect to have a good crop."

Forest advises apple pickers to consider heading to the orchards earlier this season, to make sure they still have your favorite kind of apple. On Saturday and Sunday Eplegaarden will hold the Fitchburg Fall Farm Festival. For more abut the farm and their hours, click here.

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