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‘You can’t get any more local than this’ | Outlook for CT apple orchards is favorable this fall

The summer's numerous storms have made for an excellent apple crop this year and pick-your-own is picking up steam.

ELLINGTON, Conn. — After dealing with the hurdles of the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple summer storms that dumped an abundance of rain to his fields, Ken Shores, the owner of Johnny Appleseed's Farm in Ellington, has high hopes for the fall season.

Shores, who has owned his family farm with his wife for close to 40 years, said this year's apple crop is excellent.

"This season is going to be great and everything looks good," Shores said, walking along the 250 acres of Johnny Appleseed's property off West Road.

The torrential rains that fell across the state hit many farms hard, destroying cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins crops that farmers will have a tough time recouping the losses from this year.

Credit: Jim Altman/FOX61

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But, when it comes to the apples, a staple of the pick your own and Connecticut Grown campaign, those drenching rains might have helped.

"The challenge with Connecticut agriculture [is] it’s so different,” Bryan Hurlburt, the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, said. “So, while pumpkins and cucumbers and squash were hit really hard, apples -- in terms of the industry -- it's the best year that people can remember."

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Shores, who also operates a farm stand in Tolland, said last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were plenty of people who ventured out to his fields to pick apples -- the social distancing aspect helped. This Fall, so far, it appears that apple picking is just as popular.

Credit: Jim Altman/FOX61

"Last year was crazy, people just kept coming and coming and we didn’t have a big crop, we literally sold out of apples," he said. "I think it's spilled over [to this fall], people have been coming out."

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From the Department of Agriculture's standpoint, there is a push to get people out to the orchards because, Hurlburt said, the crops belong bagged up and ready to be enjoyed.

"What's really important now is to get out and get those apples off the trees and into our kitchens," he said.

Shore's added: "You can't get any more local than this."

Credit: Jim Altman/FOX61

To find a Connecticut apple picking orchard in your area, click here.

Jimmy Altman is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at jaltman@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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