Apple harvest may be down a little, but 'we've got fruit to work with'

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Now that it's September those apple orchard visits aren't far away. Some growers say Minnesota's apple production may be a little below normal this year, but should still yield plenty of good fruit.

The La Crosse Tribune spoke to the owners of orchards in La Crescent and Dakota, Minnesota, who said heavy rains in the early summer stifled bee pollination and prevented some growers from applying fungicide. John Curtis of Southwind Orchards told the Tribune that McIntosh and Cortlands took a beating, but most varieties have good crops.

Nationwide, it looks like there will be more apples than last fall. Produce News reports the forecast is for a 13 percent increase, largely because of Michigan. A frost killed most of that state's apple crop last year, but orchards expect a tenfold increase this year.

The dent in bee pollination is not unique to Minnesota, nor to apples. The number of bees is barely half what it was in the 1970's, according to Kiplinger, which says those busy insects are counted on to pollinate $20 billion worth of produce. Kiplinger's article last week looked at various save-the-bees efforts underway around the country.

As for apples, their future keeps evolving. The land that hit a home run with the Honey Crisp may have another winning variety in the works. Forum News Service reported in August that a Worthington-area grower has developed an apple so far only known as B-51. But its rights were recently purchased by a fruit co-op in Washington that will soon give it a trademarked name.

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