Despite dry weather, Bayfield orchards expect normal apple harvest

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 4:58 PM CDT
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BAYFIELD, WI -- Farmers in Bayfield say this year’s apple harvest has gone smoothly so far.

This year, large parts of Douglas, Ashland, and Bayfield counties are either abnormally dry or in a moderate drought.

Dane Hauser, Owner of Hauser’s Superior View Farm said the area has been dry for several years now.

“Last year was one of the worst dry years we’ve seen it since I’ve been on the farm,” he said.

Dry years like that can be hard on crops, especially apples.

“If the trees are shocked or stressed that much, you don’t know if those buds will be viable for the next year,” Hauser said.

The buds on apple trees start growing early on, but don’t become apples until the following year.

That means this year’s apple crop came from buds that formed during last year’s dry weather

“You have your fruit now, [and then you have] next year’s fruit buds. You can tell where there’s a little spur and then the bud, and those are next year’s fruit buds,” Hauser said.

Hauser and many others weren’t sure what this year’s crop would look like entering the season, but once the apples started growing, they could tell their yields wouldn’t be impacted.

Many farms in the Bayfield area grow other crops as well, some that are more susceptible to the dry weather.

“We’ve got about a hundred pear trees, we start the year with asparagus across the street, we’ve got strawberries, blueberries, we grow award-winning garlic,” said Dave Kostizke, Owner of the Bayfield Apple Company.

Kostizke says their farm relies on an extensive irrigation system to deliver water to more sensitive crops like their garlic.

“We had irrigation on all of [our garlic] so it was fine, [but] without that we’d be in desperate straights,” he said.

Careful attention and care for crops made a dry year manageable, and now with just over a month until Apple Fest kicks off, Hauser says he’s optimistic visitors will get the full Bayfield experience.

“It’s looking like a normal year, an average year and we’ve done this so many times. It’ll be pretty easy,” he said.

Hauser estimates in the three days Apple Fest takes place, the farm gets about 20% of their yearly income.

Apple Fest 2022 runs from October 7-9.