Shenandoah County apple orchard seeing smaller apples, early ripening due to drought

Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 7:51 AM EDT
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SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - The moderate drought in Shenandoah County has been impacting businesses in the area.

Paugh’s Orchard in Quicksburg said the size of its apples have been affected by the lack of rainfall.

“We have some premature ripening from it. They’re only about half of how big they should be right now,” Renee Sharpe, owner of Paugh’s Orchard said. “Our golden delicious are ripening a little earlier than they should with not the size they should have. Our red delicious seem to be hanging on but if we don’t get some rain soon our apples do have the potential to start falling off the tree.”

Sharpe said the red, golden delicious, and gala apples should ripen around mid-September.

“We’ve had ones that have been ripe for at least a week now but the size is not, you know, able to pick,” Sharpe said.

Sharpe said if they don’t get adequate rainfall soon they would have to rely on other local orchards for apples, if those orchards have any.

”It affects our field trips that we do. We normally let the children pick an apple off the tree. Obviously if they’ve all fallen off, there’s no apple there to pick and our you-pick program is a big attraction for us and so it affects our you pick ... if they don’t get any bigger than they are right now I can’t imagine anyone would want to pick them,” Sharpe said.

She said she believes even a little rainfall could help postpone the apples from falling off the trees, but to bring things back to halfway decent she thinks they need about six inches of rain.