Central New York

Abbott Farms Prepares for Apple Picking Season in Central New York

Mike, a Baldwinsville native, has been picking apples at Abbott Farms since he was in elementary school. With the start of fall, Mike passed down the tradition to his grandson Griffin. ©️ 2018 Sam Rothman

Click the play button to find out about all of the work that goes into growing an apple for picking in Central New York. 

Audio Transcript: Apple Picking in Central New York

By Sam Rothman BALDWINSVILLE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Fall weather has arrived in Central New York and many community members will be heading to local farms to go apple picking.

“If you live in CNY, you go apple picking sometime in the fall,” said Michael Blair, production manager of Abbott Farms in Baldwinsville. “It’s just what you do.”

However, before the apples are ready to be picked, Blair said there is a lot of work that goes into growing the fruit from start to finish.

This is Blair’s thirteenth year working at Abbott Farms. Although his main responsibility is to grow apples for humans to pick and eat, he revealed that other animals and bacteria sometimes get in the way.

“It’s really a constant fight for us as farmers to beat back nature and all of these things that want to eat our apples before they’re fully ripe and ready,” said Blair. “If we weren’t out there constantly tending the trees and treating for these molds and bacteria, our apples would be junk by the time humans are ready to eat them in the fall.”

One thing that Blair deals with every season is apple scab, a fungus that is particularly prevalent throughout New York state. Apple scab leaves black and brown spots on both the fruit and the tree leaves. In order to attack the fungus, Blair said he sprays different pesticides on the fruit to prevent any damage from unwanted guests.

This year presented a new set of challenges for Blair. Central New Yorkers are familiar with cold temperatures and a large amount of snow, but a record-breaking snowstorm in April took a toll on the apples.

Even though Blair put in extra hours of work to preserve the fruit, he said this year’s apples are smaller. However, he believes people will still come out for a day on the farm.

“We can get away with a year like this,” said Blair. “We’re selling the experience here.”

That experience, Blair said, is one of the advantages of running a U-pick farm instead of selling apples at a grocery store. Blair believes being able to spend the day with friends and family on the farm is more valuable than the perfect red apple.

After a long season of growing and maintaining the fruit, Blair doesn’t have much time to appreciate his hard work. Blair said he is already starting preparations for next year.