GOOD NEWS for fruit fanatics: It's a bumper-crop year for apples, despite the early summer drought that threatened to ruin the entire harvest season.
Thanks to late summer rain, Maryland farmers are expected to pick 75 million pounds of apples this year. Last year, 33 million pounds were picked.
Considering the weather we had, it was a pretty good year," said Tony Evans, spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture.
In fact, the drought's a blessing in disguise, giving fruit-eaters smaller yet sweeter yet sweeter apples, he said.
"What happens in a dry year with fruit is the fruit tends to be sweeter because all the sugar is concentrated," said Evans. "Dry weather reduces insect damage and cuts out some food diseases, like mold."
That means apples will be juicy, snappy and firm -- just the way people like them, according to Allan Baugher, head of Baugher's head of Baugher's Farm Market in Westminster.
"The apples are coming in nice and plentiful this year," said Baugher. "We got a late shot of rain and the trees have just now responded. It's just like the trees are getting a second wind."
Baugher's company is a local dynasty, having been established in the 1900s by his grandfather, who started with 12 acres. Now more than 175,000 trees on 175 acres grow many varieties of apple: pinkisk red Galas, green Summer Rambos, Jona Golds and the newest from the Orient, the Maitsu, which is green in color and large in size.
Business has been good for Baugher, who reports a steady stream of customers who come to pick their own apples.