Demand for product is strong
ARLINGTON – The 2013 apple season is off to a fast start with demand outpacing supply, says Arlington orchardist, Barry Balsom.
© Mike Carson/Journal Pioneer
Flo Murphy, from Arlington Orchard’s Miscouche fruit stand, shows off just some of the varieties grown at Arlington Orchard. The Dolgo Crab apples at the left have become a big seller for making jelly and the Melba apples and Clapp pears are two other popular items.
“This is an excellent, excellent season,” he said. “We’re struggling to keep up with demand.”
Balsom said that since the orchard opened for businesses in mid-August, there has been a huge demand for yellow transparent and August apples.
“We were sold out in about a week,” he said. “With Vista Bella apples, usually we have too much but not this year.
“People seem to be really hungry for new crop apples,” he said. “They want to have something fresh. The Vista Bella apples, we’re pretty much done with them now. Now we’re finishing up with the Jerseymac and the Melba are just coming on. Probably this weekend, we will be picking Paula Red and Clapps pears.”
Balsom said the season is moving along faster than in previous years and the demand for the product is brisk.
“Both of those bode well for us,” he said.
For now, Arlington Orchards is focusing on meeting the demand locally.
“We haven’t shipped across at all,” Balsom said. "We are just meeting the needs of our farm market and a few other local farm markets where we are supplying right now. We’re looking to start packaging this week but the volume has been so great on the early apples just in-house here. The u-pick just opened this weekend and that was good. So, the local demand is certainly keeping us hopping.”
Balsom said the word is spreading about the quality of local apples and there have been some different varieties that have become popular.
“An example would be the little Dolgo crab apples,” he said.” About 15 years ago we started crab apples. They weren’t a big seller. Then we found Doris Gillis’ recipe for making crab apple jelly and we started publishing that and now we’re going through the Dolgo crab apples like you wouldn’t believe. That’s getting to be a real Island favourite.”
He said people are rediscovering the Island apple and there are converts coming all of the time.
“The market seems to be growing and so are we,” he said.
Balsom said there are plans in the works to expand Arlington Orchard.
“We certainly look at new planting systems that they are doing in the rest of North America,” he said. “We’re getting sites ready and we’re planning to put some high densities (crop) in here.”
Balsom said it’s difficult to point to one specific variety of apple as the best seller.
“It’s the time and the place,” he said. “Everybody’s got their favourite. Prince Edward Island Honeycrisp, there’s no problem to sell that. But having said that, there’s a huge market demand for an Island Cortland. The Paula Red has a huge following and people shouldn’t write off the Mac. A tree-ripened MacIntosh has a large, fan base.”
Balsom said Arlington Orchard will be shipping off Island and is making changes to accommodate the crop.
“We’ve tripled the size of our storage,” he said. “We’ll be up and running by the weekend. That’s good because we’ve got lots of pears to pick and store.”
Arlington Orchards is also the home of Malpeque Bay Cider, a product Balsom introduced about a year ago and has become popular among Islanders.
On Sept. 13, Arlington Orchard will host the Maritime Cider Contest as part of the Applicious Festival.
Balsom said there will be cider producers from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick taking part.