Mid-August 2012

Dear Friends:

We approach the opening of the 2012 Cider Mill season – Saturday September 22 – with some trepidation. Although to date it has gotten scant notice in the news media, this will be one of the most challenging apple years in the last 20 in terms of supply. This is a problem that stretches across the Northeast and beyond. I know that growers in Michigan have been combing the New York area looking for fruit, so it stretches at least that far. A real tip-off of just how bad things are came with a form letter I received from Motts in late June. That’s right, the REALLY big guys. It said that their normal supplies from western New York State were woefully short and they were looking for apples for processing and paying premium prices. If Motts is in the market scrounging for apples, look out!

What is the cause of the shortage? No, it has nothing to do with hot weather. Well, it does, sort of. Remember our nice mild winter? The apple trees across the Northeast liked it, too. So much so that they burst into flower around April 1 and then, bang, there were two or three nights of heavy frost in most areas. Those few frosty nights killed millions of apple fruit buds and flowers, and the result is that the volume of the autumn crop diminished accordingly. Our own orchard was not spared. And what of those orchards that have larger crops of apples? Well, they’ll be very popular folks!

What’s it mean to all of us? Apples will be hard to come by. Some varieties will be in very short supply or maybe not available at all – Macouns seem to be almost non-existent – and prices will, big surprise, be higher across the board. At this point, I still don’t know by how much, but based on conversations I have had with 10 different growers across a wide region, there is no doubt that we are going to feel it.

In anticipation of the supply challenge this year is posing, I have been spending a lot of time over the summer lining up apples to carry us through. (This has, I confess, led to some fun excursions.) Fortunately, after 35 years in the business we have made many friends in the apple growing community and I am confident that we’ll be able to get by and still offer the range of varieties and the unique cider blends for which Thompson’s is known.

We look forward to welcoming you back, and together we’ll see how the 2012 season shakes out. I will update the website in a few weeks when the picture should be clearer.


Geoff Thompson

PS -- On a sad note, our loyal dog, Teddy, who has been with us since 1997, passed on after 15 years of keeping the orchard woodchuck –free and greeting our many visitors. His picture will hold a place in the Mill and always in our hearts.


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