2013 Cider Mill Report and Autumn Apple Outlook

It seems we hear about “extremes” of one kind or another on a regular basis these days. This year’s report is in keeping with the trend, at least in terms of apple crops in the Hudson Valley region.

Many of you will recall that last year was indeed challenging for apple growers across the Northeast and even the Upper Midwest. This was the result of a mild winter and then record warmth at the end of February. In reaction the apple trees bloomed around the 10th of March, the earliest I have seen in my 35 years of growing. And then the worst happened. While in full bloom, the temperature dropped into the 20s for several nights killing the blossoms. The inevitable result was a loss of from 50 to 95 percent of the crop for most orchards. Now that’s extreme! Last fall apples were in very short supply and some varieties were simply unavailable. We managed to get through the season by augmenting our local supply. We hauled apples up from southern Pennsylvania which was below the freeze-line. It was a costly operation and added considerable stress to the season.

So where do things stand a year later? Continuing with the extreme theme, this year the trees blossomed the latest I have ever seen. The blossoms, which when pollinated by bees become the fruit, finally opened the second week of May following a very chilly March and April. So in the space of 12 months we witnessed the earliest flowering and the latest in more than three decades. Extreme X 2. Is it climate change or just the draw of the seasons? It’s an intriguing and open question.

The good news is that the late blossoming reduced the chance of a killing frost and the result is that this is shaping up to be very good crop year. We expect to have a full-range of varieties and last year’s scramble for cider apples should be just a memory.

We are opening a week earlier than in the past because the demand for cider and apples is in gear by mid-September and we are confident that we will have enough apples on hand to make it worthwhile. As the aficionados know, the cider changes somewhat as the season advances. Early-season cider tends to be a bit thinner than what you see in November but that’s part of the cider experience.

We look forward to seeing old friends and new once again this year, our 37th season. We’re now into our third generation of customers from some of our original families. That makes it all worthwhile.

By the way, we’re pleased to have been invited to demonstrate traditional cider making techniques at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture’s Annual Harvest Festival on October in Pocantico Hills. Since that’s where our pomace (left over apple from cider making) goes, we have a working relationship with the fine folks there. The Mill will be open that day so we’d be happy to see you either place that day, or even better, at both!

Thank you so much for your ongoing support and interest.


Geoff Thompson

Read the 2014 report

Read the 2013 report

Read the 2012 report

Read the 2011 report

Read the 2010 report

Read the 2009 report

Read the 2008 report

Read the 2007 report

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