2011 will be remembered for storms, but 2012 may be remembered for drought and the warmest temperatures on record. Now that fall is well underway, one of the most popular New England activities of the season is showing signs of having been effected by the weather.
The Blue Jay Orchard apple blossoms were the victims of the late spring frosts in May. “This is only the second time in the 32 years I have been here that this has happened,” Chris Siefrit said, standing in the doorway of the office with Apple and Americana decorations hanging on the walls behind him.
The frosts occurred while many of the apple blossoms were in bloom, but things were made worse by the dry summer. While the orchard does have a small crop of apples, there are not enough for apple-picking.
However, that should not deter any family from making their annual stop at the orchard. “We’ll have wagon rides, pulled by the tractor, and the Bee Lady is coming,” Kathleen Germinaro exclaimed with excitement.
Germinaro said there are lots of activities planned that will still get the family outside where they can enjoy beautiful weather, pick their pumpkins from the Pumpkin Patch, and even follow a Trivia Trail throughout the orchards.
Germinaro and Siefrit said they hold no titles but describe themselves as committed and loyal employees. According to Germinaro, who has been with Blue Jay for 13 years, “Chris is the apple man. He knows how to grow them, which varieties are which, and how to use them.”
Siefrit ran down his list of favorite apples, which includes the Johna Gold as his top favorite. “The Johna Gold is the most popular apple in Great Britain. It is a cross between the Jonathon and the Golden Delicious.”
Siefert said it is a cold weather apple and they hope to be bringing them into the shop as soon as this weekend. Other popular types include the Mutsu, a cross between the Golden Delicious and Japanese Indu, and the Macouns, which are among the more commonly known big sellers. The orchard has at least six more varieties in the store, and by this weekend may have as many as 10.
And while there may be fewer apples, they may also be smaller, which Siefrit said can be an advantage. “There was a lack of rain causing smaller apples but the smaller they are, the higher the sugar content, so this crop may actually taste better,” he said.
Germinaro encouraged people to come out to the orchard and enjoy the fall tradition of getting outside and enjoying the brisk weather. “Being here brings you away from everyday life. You can chill out. People are always happy when they come here. There is still plenty to do. It’s so nice to be out in the orchard, to smell the donuts cooking.”
Besides apples, there are pies and other baked goods made on the premises, old-fashioned candy, jellies and jams, pickles and relishes, local honey and maple syrup, a plethora of traditional New England fare.