Weather leads to serious shortage of Honeycrisp apples at one orchard

NEW BERLIN -- Fall is here, and the cooler temperatures draw apple-lovers to the orchard. This year, due to mild temperatures this spring and this summer's drought, many orchards are seeing a serious shortage in terms of the apple crop, and some are even placing restrictions on how many apples customers can pick up.

Patterson Orchards is a popular place in the fall months. The New Berlin-based business is beginning to sell its bounty of Honeycrisp apples. Some waited in line Monday morning, September 10th for nearly two hours!

"I was shocked! I got here a little before 9 and I'm going, 'where do I park?'" one customer said.

When the doors opened at Patterson Orchards Monday morning, the rush was on, and keeping up with demand is a challenge this year for the orchard. Customers are snatching up bags of apples before they even hit the store's floor.

Orchard owner Jay Patterson says this year's wild weather has his Honeycrisp yield down about 90% compared with 2011. In response, for the first time in the orchard's history, there is a limit of 20 pounds of Honeycrisp apples per purchase. Some customers get around that restriction by making multiple transactions.

"The supply is not there. I just don't have the money. We do have them, but I'm not sure for how long," Patterson said.

While $2.29 per pound is his highest Honeycrisp apple price ever, Patterson says it's still some 70 cents cheaper than some other apple sellers.

"It doesn't bother me one bit. I would rather help out the customer," Patterson said.

Patterson estimates the orchards will suffer a $60,000 loss this year due to the spring's mild temperatures and this summer's drought. Patterson says he plans to bring in more Honeycrisp apples from Michigan orchards, but says his orchard's offerings will be thin at best for the rest of this season.

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