Autumn has always meant apples in Northern New York. Each year for many years, the Farm and Garden section of the Times ran a photo spread of the apple harvesting process at local orchards. Reprinted here, from Oct. 9, 1948, is one of the earliest such profiles. Boyd W. Moffett describes the process at an Oswego County farm and provides a snapshot of the apple industry in New York State at the time. Photos by staff photographer Ralph M. Pettit.
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The apple harvest for 1948 is below that of 1947, a survey made this week reveals. Continued dry weather, particularly in the lake areas to the west of Rochester, has limited size of late-maturing varieties. The extreme heat of late August hastened maturity of apples but was not conducive to good coloring.
The New York State Agricultural Statistical Service reports that the indicated commercial apple crop for the entire country is 11 per cent less than last year.
This year, New York State apple growers who used hormone sprays reduced pre-harvest drop approximately 50 per cent in areas where growing conditions were normal, according to agricultural authors. Prof. L.G. Edgerton, pomologist at the college of agriculture, Cornell university, says these conditions existed in approximately 75 per cent of the fruit growing areas of the state. While four to six bushels might drop from an unsprayed tree, drop on sprayed trees would be about two bushels.
The hormone spray naphthalene acetic acid was used extensively this year, especially by MacIntosh growers. Ever since the trees budded in the spring, growers have been spraying to kill the various pests that menace the apple crop.
DDT, either as a spray or a dust, will control the apple maggot, according to Dr. R.W. Dean, entomologist, Geneva experimental station. However, applications must be made often enough to ensure the presence of the insecticide on trees while the adult flies are active. The killing effects of DDT last from 10 to 14 days on apple trees.
Apples are not grown too extensively as a commercial crop in northern New York. The principal belt is south of Lake Ontario and extends north as far as the northeast tip of Oswego county.
Among the largest growers in this particular section are Minckler & Martens, whose orchards are about a half-mile south of the Scenic Highway Route 3, just north of Mexico. The partners are Claude Minckler and Arthur Martens.
Mr. Martens said that their orchards cover approximately 65 acres. They include four main varieties — McIntosh, Cortland, Northern Spy and Greenings — with scatterings of other types of which the Rome is probably outstanding. About 50 per cent of their yield, however, is in the MacIntosh variety.
As in other sections of the fruit belt, their crop for 1948 is below normal. In fact, Mr. Martens said they anticipate about a quarter of a crop.
“Actually,” he continued, “we don’t know just how many bushels we should get. We’ve been here five years and have yet to harvest an average crop. My guess is however, that an average yield would be in the neighborhood of 20,000 bushels.”
Most of the crop from this farm is disposed of through a broker, Mr. Martens said. As soon as the apples are packed, they are dispatched by truck to Red Hook, on the Hudson river, for cold storage. Some of their apples are sold to wholesalers in this locality and many individuals call at the farm to purchase this winter supply.