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Local apples easier to find as they become easier to grow

apple-trellis-grandaddys-farmLocal apples should be easier than ever to find in Tennessee this fall. Local growers are closing out one of the sweetest fruit seasons in many years. Favorable weather conditions, plus new growing options have increased the presence of fresh apples on farms, at farmers markets and in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) throughout the state.

Excessive rainfalls in some places and drought in others proved challenging for some growers, but generally Tennesseans enjoyed fruit harvests that started early and lasted longer than usual.

Another reason apples are surging this year is new techniques and tree varieties. Traditional orchards with long rows of tall, spreading trees require ladders and nimble laborers for harvesting.  Today, more and more Tennessee producers are choosing fast maturing dwarf tree varieties, then training the tree branches along trellises. The result is an orchard that produces fruit within two or three of years of planting, with high yields of apples that can be harvested from the ground.

Apples have the longest harvest schedule of any locally grown fruit. Some apple varieties ripen as early as mid-to-late July, while most are picked from mid-August through October. Other varieties like Arkansas Black, Pink Lady and Goldrush are harvested in early November. This means customers can experience a wide variety of flavors and qualities over a long period of time.

To find a Tennessee orchard, local farmers market or CSA, visit www.PickTNProducts.org or use the free Pick Tennessee mobile app.

Pick Tennessee Products is the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s program to connect consumers to farms, farmers and farm products. Now in its 30th year, Pick Tennessee lists nearly 2,500 local farmers and farm-direct businesses with roughly 10,000 products.