It’s prime picking for apples this year

By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WINONA LAKE — This summer’s weather has turned into a bumper crop with local apple orchards.

Mike Skipper, director of the Community Apple Orchard in Winona Lake, predicts a record crop this year.

“I think one of the biggest harvests we’ve has been 8,000 (pounds) … If we could do ten thousand, I would be absolutely thrilled,” Skipper said Thursday.

He said the growing season has been one of the more optimum in recent years.

The warm, drought-like weather earlier this summer, followed by cooler and rainy weather, helped prompt the growth, he said.

Apple trees grow in an alternating pattern called a Biennial variation, which has brought about an abundance of apples, he said.

The public is invited to visit the orchard from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday over the next few weekends. Prices are just 75 cents per pound and a cider press is available to the public.

Last week, local pickers harvested about 2,400 pounds with much of that by local boy scouts. Many of those apples were sent to Combined Community Services and the Salvation Army.

Skipper said they had about 425 pounds that will be headed for a South Bend food bank.

Skipper said he’s eager to get apples to area food banks and encourages companies to embrace a corporate challenge. You can learn more about that at the community orchard Facebook page.

Skipper said they can take care of shipping.

Nearly 56,000 pounds of apples have been harvested since it opened in 2010 and nearly half of that has been donated.

Over half of those apples have been donated, Skipper said.