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'An off-year': Local apple farmer expecting less than half of usual crop due to drought conditions

Posted at 5:27 AM, Oct 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-04 09:49:03-04

ARMSTRONG, Wis. -- The drought we have been experiencing this year is affecting much more than your lawn.

For farmers, our rainfall affects their livelihoods.

On a good year, Chad Fox, co-owner of Armstrong Apples, Orchard & Winery, says they produce about 40,000 to 50,000 pounds of apples from their 2,500 trees. This season he is expecting a much smaller yield.

"My guess is 15, maybe 20,000 [pounds of apples]," Fox says.

'An off-year': Local apple farmer expecting just half of usual crop due to drought conditions

Their hearty trees were planted nearly 30 years ago, and will be just fine. But the apples this year are a bit smaller.

"A good leaf right here is going to absorb the sun, and it's going to get the apple energy to produce the fruit you want on the tree," Fox explains, adding this season's weather created, "Kind of an off-year."

Storm Team 4 meteorologist Kristen Kirchhaine tracked abnormal drought conditions in Fond du Lac County, going back to early April. By August, there was too much rain. That is the apple's peak growing time.

Drought leads to less than ideal conditions for apples

We asked Fox what happens to the trees when there is too much rain.

"If we had a rainstorm and it was humid, it produces an environment on the apples which creates a scab on the apple."

Fox says it does not affect the health of the apple, it is just not as pretty as customers would expect. The vast majority of this year's apples look great. Families are still welcome to come and pick apples on the farm themselves.

The family-owned business also has a nearly two-acre vineyard, producing more than 20 different wines.

To learn more about Armstrong Apples, Orchard & Winery, click or tap here.

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