Area farmers optimistic for apple season - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Area farmers optimistic for apple season


GALESVILLE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - An unusually warm winter and a mid-April frost last year, caused Wisconsin's apple farmers to lose a majority of their crop.

But the outlook for the 2013 apple harvest is much crisper. A more consistent winter season leaves one Galesville farmer to expect his entire crop to grow in healthy.

It's the sound of melting snow, and a pruning shear that keeps Andy Ferguson optimistic there'll be no cut to his apple crop this year.

"A lot of people that do have one or two apple trees in their backyard probably know that last year they didn't have any apples, or maybe just a few," said Ferguson, co-owner of Ferguson's Orchards. "Multiply that by 40,000 apple trees and you can kind of imagine the rough spot for us to be in."

Last year, Ferguson's lost 90 percent of their crop.

But Orchard Manager Mark Knapmiller said that doesn't mean there was less work to do.

"Apple trees are a lot different than row crops or any other crop," Knapmiller said. "You have to kinda keep track of them every year or else they'll get out of hand, and you can't stop taking care of them because it'll carry on to the next year and the year after that."

Even in cold times, Ferguson may make cuts to the trees, but never to staff.

"We basically thought we rather go the route of making up things for (staff) to do just so we can keep them busy and keep them a part of our orchard family," Ferguson said.

This season's colder and snowier winter is a necessary seed for apple farmers' success in Wisconsin.

And Ferguson has an extra strong foundation.

"That farmer optimism," he said. "That, I think, is required to be a farmer without going insane. So, we're thinking this year is looking very good so far."

Ferguson's Orchards usually sells a percentage of their apples to distributors, like grocery stores.

With only 10 percent of the crop last year, they weren't able to do that.

Ferguson said he's now looking forward to regaining that revenue.

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