IOWA CITY — Apples are not hanging from the trees at Wilson’s Orchard the way they usually do in August.
A spring freeze mixed with a summer drought has taken a toll on the popular property.
“Instead of people going out and (picking) 40 pounds, you may see 10 (pounds) or so,” said Paul Rasch, owner of Wilson’s Orchard. Rasch said this is the worst August he has experienced in his five years of ownership.
“We’ve had our share of struggles this year, but it’s always something different, but the great thing about fruit growers is we’re always looking forward to next year,” he said.
The sluggish start hasn’t slowed down customers who are starting to hit the fields a bit early. On Saturday afternoon, dozens of pickers were in the orchard searching through the trees for fruit.
The orchard also offers free children’s games and tractor rides, which keeps attendance up during difficult times.
- Wilson’s Orchard: 2924 Orchard Lane NE, Iowa City; (319) 354-5651, Wilsonsapples.com; open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily in September and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily in October
- Honey Creek Acres: 799 Swisher View Dr. SW, Swisher; (319) 857-4322, Honeycreekacres.com; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends only through August, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Oct. 31
- Allen’s Orchard: 5801 N. 10th St., Marion; (319) 377-1408, Allensorchard.net; open Monday and Wednesday, picking Friday through Sunday (hours vary, find out more on Facebook).
“It’s been better in years past, but we managed to find a couple things, we came out here for some baking apples, and he pointed us in the right direction and we found something,” said Calvin Schnucker, a customer who has been coming to the orchard for several years. “(You) just have to look pretty hard.”
This weekend, Rasch received a shipment of fresh Michigan peaches, something he’s arranged for several times this summer. The peaches are helping to fill the shelves inside the on-site bakery, although they are in short supply as well.
“I had to arm wrestle for them,” Rasch said jokingly. “But I have a family connection.”
One crop that doesn’t appear to be a victim of the weather is the pumpkins. Pumpkin patches at the orchard are already starting to produce a rather large supply.
“Now with this cooler weekend they seem to be putting on pumpkins really crazy right now, so we look forward to a really good pumpkin crop,” Rasch said.
The drought also helped keep bugs and pests away, making the pumpkins and apples very fresh, Rasch said.