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Apple crop much improved this year, after last summer’s drought

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MEQUON (WITI) -- Last Fall, we saw a serious shortage in terms of the apple crop, due to mild temperatures last Spring, and a severe drought last summer. Demand was much higher than supply last Fall, and consumers were paying 30-cents more per pound for apples. The drought even led to a shortage of Honeycrisp apples, and Honeycrisps were $2.29 per pound at Patterson Orchards in New Berlin.

The good news: The apple crop is much improved as we head into this Fall.

As folks strolled through the Barthel Fruit Farm in Mequon on Sunday, September 8th, many were happy to see a stark contrast in the apple crop as compared with last year.

"Nothing was out here, so it's nice to come and see the apples growing again," John Vanbeckum said.

Vanbeckum and others were happy to be able to pick their own apples this year. In 2012, they couldn't.

"Last year was a very ugly year. We had an early Spring. The trees and the blossoms froze and we came into a drought. We lost 90 percent of the crop last year. It was disastrous. This year, the fruit looks wonderful. It's abundant," Bob Barthel with Barthel Fruit Farm said.

Barthel, a fourth-generation farmer, says he hadn't seen devastation like 2012 in nearly 40 years.

However, Barthel says this year, the quantity and quality are exceptional.

"Trees had a year of rest last year since they didn`t have a crop so every tree has a full crop. I have 20,000 apple trees here in the orchard, and we'll pick 25,000 to 30,000 bushels of apples. Right now, we're picking ginger gold. We are starting McIntosh in a few days," Barthel said.

Barthel grows about 20 different kinds of apples and sells about 90 percent of the fruit on the farm. After weathering last year, Barthel is hoping 2013's harvest can get business back into the black.

Meanwhile, apple pickers say this year's fruitful yield was worth the wait.

"It's nice to see everything blooming and see all the apples out here and everything," Vanbeckum said.

CLICK HERE for additional information on Barthel Fruit Farm.