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Apple harvest in full swing, bountiful

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Greta Brumback Liskey holds a red delicious apple at Woodbine Orchards in Lebanon Church, west of Strasburg. Apple-picking in the orchard began in early September and growers are reporting a bountiful harvest. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Cesar Vasquez picks golden delicious apples at Woodbine Farms in Lebanon Church on Wednesday. Area apple growers are reporting an abundant harvest. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Sally Voth svoth@nvdaily.com

Northern Shenandoah Valley orchardists are enjoying a bumper apple crop.

Woodbine Farms' four orchards in Shenandoah and Frederick counties are expecting a 50 percent improvement from last year's harvest, said Greta Brumback Liskey, who is the sixth generation of her family to work at the orchards.

"Total, they're predicting around 225,000 bushels this year," she said.

In 2011, about 150,000 bushels were picked at the orchards, Liskey said at her family's 53-acre Lebanon Church orchard.

"We had plenty of rain, so the trees weren't stressed, and that really put the size on the apples," she said. "They're beautiful."

The apple harvest started at the beginning of the month, and likely will be done by the middle to end of October, barring any hurricanes, according to Liskey.

Honey crisp, greening and gala apples have been picked, as well as some early summer varieties, she said, and golden delicious and empire apples are being picked this week by 22 seasonal workers. The family farm is currently growing 25 varieties of apples.

Many of the apples are sold wholesale to farm markets, while others go for processing at Bowman Andros Apple Products in Mt. Jackson, Peterson Farms in Michigan and Gerber.

"It's different from year to year, [but] Gerber's a pretty constant," Liskey said.

Eddie Richard, manager of Richards Fruit Market in Middletown, was effusive about this year's harvest to date.

"We're not quite half-way, and the crop is beautiful -- size and quality and quantity are excellent," he said Wednesday.

The roughly 50-acre orchard grows a variety of apples, including red and golden delicious, York, Stayman, Nittany and Granny Smith.

"It's just a combination of being at the right time," Richard said. "My crop is full. The quality is excellent. It's all come together. It's exciting. It feels like it's a once in a lifetime, hit the jackpot kind of feeling."

That being said, the orchardists are still at the whim of Mother Nature.

"What we've harvested so far is wonderful," Richard said. "We still have to get through October's harvest. There's lots of crazy things that can happen with the weather to make things get messed up at the last second. But, anticipation is good."


WOW, Driving back from winchester off of Middle Road, The apple trees looked awsome, all drooping with their delicate fruits whether being red or golden (yellow). Looked ripe for the picken.

I can almost smell the apple butter cooking! And the apple pie. And the apple crumble. And the apple sauce. And the apple jelly.

Is this not another example of how lucky we are to live in this beautiful Valley? There are so many simple things to be enjoyed and let's hope it can remain this way!!!!

yep definately a great place to live on the east coast. And snarks, that apple crumble is awsome. I guess there are a few orchards, i think one down near mount jackson that make some good hard cider also.

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