Apple crop booming after rough 2012

2012 wasn’t nice to Iowa’s apple crop. 2013 has been its best friend.

After a late freeze killed most of Iowa’s apple crop in May of last year, one local grower said he has so many apples on the trees this year, the branches are starting to break and he’s now holding up some branches with pieces of lumber.

Bob Atha, owner of Appleberry Farm in Marshalltown, said last year was the first time in 30 years he didn’t have any apples to harvest out of the 18 different kinds he offers. This year it’s a different story.

“The last three weeks I’ve been propping up branches to keep them from breaking,” he said.

Atha said the wet spring and dry summer hasn’t had much of an impact on his 2,000 apple trees.

“We’ve had to water our pumpkins and squash a lot, but the weather this year hasn’t had much of an effect on the apples,” he said.

Atha said he has been picking Wealthy apples for about a week now and the rest will be ready to pick within the next few weeks.

“Honeycrisp are the most popular and we will be starting to pick those next week or in two weeks,” he said.

Atha said he plans to start making caramel apples to have ready by Labor Day and the apple cider should be ready within a few weeks.

Appleberry Farm is open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Atha invites families out to pick their own apples. There are bags of apples available in the store for people who do not wish to pick their own. Appleberry Farm also sells gifts, pumpkins, gourds and fresh vegetables.

The farm is located at 2402 W. Main St. in Marshalltown.