Orchards on the North Fork wrapped up a successful picking season over the Columbus Day weekend, despite damage to some trees from Tropical Storm Irene.
Tom Wickham, of Wickham’s Fruit Farm in Cutchogue, said that very young trees and older trees with large deep roots had much better luck with the storm than middle-sized trees.
“Like kids at an adolescent age, they’re susceptible to pressures,” he said, adding that some modern varieties of apple trees, whose trunks are grafted onto their roots, were also blown over by the storm. His crews were out right after the storm pulling the trees upright, with much of their fruit intact.
“This year was not the best, but it was far from the worst,” he said. “We lost 10 to 15 percent of our trees and our crop with Tropical Storm Irene, but I regard ourselves as quite fortunate.”
Mr. Wickham closed down U-picking after the holiday weekend because, while there are still a lot of apples left in his orchard, they are too high on the trees to be reached by hand. He will continue to have apples available at the farmstand for the next two months.
Bob Gammon of Woodside Farms in Aquebogue, said he had a moderate crop, but high demand for U-pick apples led him to shut down U-picking after the holiday weekend. But he will still continue to sell apples, pies and cider at his Route 25 stand until Christmas.
He said he thought his business benefited from the early closure of apple farms farther west due to damage from Irene.
“They had an issue with their crop, and I think it helped my business,” he said.