Bucket of apples

Crunchy, ripe apples are a fall treat. But in many areas, growing apples is becoming more difficult as the climate changes.

In the Midwest, for example, orchards are experiencing increasingly hot and wet weather.

“What it’s done is made fungal diseases more and more of a problem later and later in the season,” says Rami Aburomia of Atoms to Apples, an organic orchard in Wisconsin.

To improve his yields, Aburomia grows disease-resistant strains like Honeycrisp.

And he has planted his trees closer together so that they can grow on trellises, almost like grape vines.

“So there’s a lot more light and air that’s going into the tree,” he says, “so it means less disease.”

Aburomia also prunes his trees to promote good air circulation. And when needed, he applies an organic fungicide.

But even if the fruit looks great, rain can cause other problems for apple growers. For example, wet weather can deter customers from visiting you-pick orchards that also offer hay rides and other fall fun.

So Aburomia says if the trend toward wetter weather continues, the industry will need to adapt.

“I think there’s going to need to be a lot of sharing between growers to say ‘OK, this is what works, so you’ve got to do this to be able to succeed,'” he says.

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Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Food & Agriculture