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This Year’s Giant Apples, Explained

October 24, 2012

So a couple of weeks ago, I posted a photo of the giant Jonagold apple I had bought at the Brookline Farmer’s Market. I noticed that many of the apples at the market that day seemed larger than normal and Adam over at Adam’s Apples remarked that he had noticed the same thing. Subsequent visits to orchards and markets seemed to confirm our hunch. So…why?

I asked Tim Bassett at Gould Hill Farm and he said yes, they are bigger, and it’s because of the frosts we had back in April, which hit just when the apple blossoms had popped.



A normal-size Roxbury Russet surrounded by giant, menacing specimens of (l-r) Stayman Winesap, Suncrisp, and Jonagold.

Some of the trees were wiped out by the frosts, Tim said, but others lost just a portion of their blossoms. For those trees, the blossoms that remained grew into fruits, and those fruits were getting a greater-than-normal share of the tree’s nutrients. So they just kept growing.

Overall, it has been a pretty heartbreaking year for northern apple growers. Some local farmers I’ve spoken with reported losses of 60 to 80% of their crop. Others, with land in less vulnerable microclimates, were unscathed. As a result of all those losses, we’ll be paying more for apples and apple cider this year. But the apples we’ll be buying are remarkable.

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