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US: Area apple harvest soars despite drought

Small and sweet. That`s what growers say consumers can expect of the apple crop this harvest season in western New York. The unusually dry summer resulted in smaller fruit this year, said Peter Gregg, spokesman for the New York Apple Association. But the abundance of sunshine means the brix or sugar level is higher. `We had perfect production conditions,` Gregg said.

The association is projecting 29.5 million bushels of apples for this fall`s harvest. One bushel equals about 42 pounds of apples. This marks the fifth year in a row that growers have seen a banner crop. New York apple growers produced 29.7 million bushels of apples in 2006, according to the association.

Bushel determination measures the weight of apples. This year`s crop will set records for the amount of apples, not the weight, Gregg noted. Across the Rochester region, growers are busily picking apples —currently the Honeycrisp and Empire varieties. Wayne County is the largest apple-growing county in the state and has the largest concentration of apple orchards in the world, Gregg said.

The drought did affect some Wayne County farmers, said Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association, with some varieties that did not fare well under the heat.

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