A LOOK BACK AT THE 2007 SEASON
The autumn 2007 season – our 31st -- promises to be both interesting and a little bit challenging. Let me explain.As you are aware, 2007, despite the severe drought during the summer and early fall, produced a bumper crop of apples. Many of you brought me stories (and some samples) of old trees on your properties that never produced much at all, but that this year came thorough with a crop. It was that kind of a year, and for it I am thankful.
Interestingly, despite the bee problems we all read about, including the death of the bees in the hives on my property on the eve of the trees blossoming, we managed to get enough pollination to permit a good crop to form. I do not keep my own bees, so hopefully next spring will see new hives established by some local bee keepers, and it won’t be such a crap shoot. It is quite amazing to watch the phenomenal bee activity on the apple flowers when there are formal hives in the orchard.
Much of the heavy lifting in terms of pollinating this year was done by bumble bees. These guys are willing to fly in windy and chilly weather and they do get around, so to speak, so they help a lot. I was, however, disturbed to learn recently from Teatown Lake Reservation Executive Director Fred Koontz that there is now something adversely affecting even the bumble bees. Whatever disease, parasite or whatever is attacking them, leaves them “shivering.” Sure enough, the Teatown staff found many bumble bees in that unfortunate state during the summer, so who knows what the future holds.
The one group that seems utterly unaffected by any problems or natural enemies is the hornets, aka, yellow jackets. This was, in my view, the worst year ever for them. They come out in late summer and fall, are all over everything with the slightest sweetness, sting with impunity and live to tell the tale. What’s more, so they pollinate in the spring? Heck no. A plague on their houses (nests) wouldn’t be so bad! The exceptionally warm weather this fall kept them flying well into November and it appeared that a second brood might have shown up when the weather stayed so warm. Nasty!
Back to the Cider Mill. We harvested more than 200 bushels which is well beyond any prior yields. Many of the heirloom varieties we have extensively planted finally kicked into production, and that let us sell some of them for eating and add them to the cider for extra interesting flavors. The last few weeks of the season saw cider being made with 20-plus varieties. Amazing! The intensive pruning work by Alan Haigh late last winter as well as his efforts in the winter of 2006 paid off in improved productivity this season.
I want to offer special thanks to Juan and Luis Romero, whose incredible hard work and dedication make it possible for me to have the orchard to say nothing of maintaining the property I am so fortunate to own. It’s a year round job. They have now been with me for 10 years, from planting more than 350 of the 500+ apple trees, to seeing them come to bearing. They are an invaluable part of the operation.
As you know, this year our cider production added the ultra violet light treatment that is now required by the State of New York. We found the system worked very well and proved relatively idiot-proof, something I tested regularly. As promised, there was no impact on the flavor of the cider and it has the added bonus of giving the cider an increased shelf-life.
Finally, I want to thank all of the many loyal and dedicated customers who return to Thompson’s Cider Mill each year. I very much appreciate your kind words, interest and support. I have customers who have been coming for all 31 years of production – I was only about 9 at that time – and that is truly remarkable. Thank you to all of you and for the many friendships that have developed over the years.
On behalf of my wife, Liz; the great group of young people who work with me each weekend, Anna, Mackie and Julian; my family; and my loyal dog, Teddy – thank you.
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Read the 2007 report