Following a season of drought just a year ago, state agriculture officials said the apple crop has rebounded and could produce a record harvest.
According to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, apples are one of the state's largest and most important crops.
“Last year's crop was very short, but this year all varieties are available,” said Brian Kelliher, Easy Pickin’s Orchards in Enfield and president of the Connecticut Apple Marketing Board. “We had good pollinating weather and ample rains early on, and the cool nights and sunny days recently are making for great color, quality and flavor.”
Eli Drazen of Drazen Orchards in Cheshire said he lost 40 percent of his crop last year to both the drought and a February freeze.
This past May, he was relieved to see a full recovery thanks to the wet spring.
“The trees were just covered in blossoms - we call it a snowball bloom,” Drazen said. “We knew that this year was going to be a real limb-buster.”
The state's apple crop accounts for about half a million bushels worth $12 million.
And it's not all about the apples.
Orchards and farms have embraced the fall to make themselves tourist destinations.
“Many of our orchards have worked hard to diversify their operations into tourist destinations that offer customers a rewarding agricultural experience that includes a variety of activities,” said Steven Reviczky, agriculture commissioner.
Hickory Hill is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Owner Charles Beasley said there's no better way to celebrate than with an exceptional apple harvest season.
"This year was a phenomenal year to be in the apple business," Beasley said. "It rained an inch to two inches every week, sometimes multiple times a week and that allowed us to leave more apples on the tree and still able to get the proper size and color they needed."
With a beautiful country setting, horses in the back and apples you can pick and taste on the spot. The state Department of Agriculture said orchards such as Hickory Hill are a top tourist destination this season.
"Whether it's bringing their kids to pick have fun, go on a hayride, pick your own pumpkins, it's becoming a great family destination," Beasley said.
For those of people looking at their calendar to mark a perfect day to come out and pick some apples, the Connecticut apple season will run through mid-November.
More information on apple destinations across the state can be found here.
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