Apple Picking Times of the Past

With apple season coming into full swing this year its great to take a moment and look back at past apple seasons.  Thanks to Mrs. Nancy MacEwan, our friend and neighbor, we recently acquired a 1968 article featuring a picture of her picking and sorting apples.  Here’s an excerpt from Worcester’s The Evening Gazette that I hope you enjoy reading as much as we do:

Apple Farm to Hold Annual Open House

By Steven Preston, The Evening Gazette, Thursday, October 10, 1968

Phillipston – There is a lull in the whirlwind which each fall hits the Red Apple Farm on Highland Avenue at harvest time.   The “Macs” have been stripped from the trees and put in cold storage or distributed to retail outlets.  Apple Picking activity will soon be in full swing again as winter apples, such as Northern Spies, ripen with the first frosts of the year.

Open House Sunday

To observe this annual rite of gathering the richness of fruit from the trees, Mr. and Mrs. A. Spaulding Rose, owners of the Red Apple Farm, will hold their seventh annual open house from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.  This year for the first time, the Apple Queen of the Massachusetts Fruit Growers Association will attend the open house, arriving at 3:30.  She is Miss Mary Dowse of Sherborn.  Rose, 62, who has been growing apple since 1929, estimates the crop this year at 8,000 to 10,000 bushels – about 85 per cent of last year’s bumper crop.  However, he says, they are better quality because of early summer rains.

20 Kinds of Apples

Visitors to the farm Sunday will be able to see a large variety of apples.  Red Apple Farm boasts almost 20 varieties, from June Sweets and Fall Bounty to Winter Banana, besides the popular McIntosh.  The tour includes a visit to the cider room where a modern press, certified by the fruit growers association, squeezes out 100 gallons of apple juice per operation.  Visitors will see the two cold storage rooms where some 3,500 bushels of apples are kept until they are all sold by about April 1.  Visitors will also see the “wiper,” a machine which takes the dullness off the apple, leaving it as clean and shiny as any human polisher could make it.  The polished apples slide down an incline and are automatically graded by size and shunted into the proper boxes.

McIntosh Favorite Variety

… “Macs,” the favorite eating apple and the big crop of the farm are the first to be picked.  The 14 pickers, five of whom are woman, “are a good crew and are all local,” according to Rose.  A woman can pick up to 50 bushels in an eight-hour day.  A man can pick about 80 bushels.  The farm hasn’t been bothered much by birds, says Rose.  Crows demolished the June Sweets, possibly because of their soft  texture…  Robins cleaned out two or three cheery trees, but no other damage to the orchard was caused by animals or birds.  Red Apple Farm is one of the highest orchards in Massachusetts, says Rose.  Because of this, he says, the apples have a bright color and crisp, tangy flavor.  The farm ships apples – McIntosh, Baldwins, Northern Spy and Delicious – all over the world.  Many a GI in Germany or Vietnam has munched a Phillipston apple.  They are packed in 12, 24, or 50 apples.

33 Acres of Orchard

Red Apple Farm covers 37 acres.  Thirty-three of them are under cultivation.  It is largely a one-man operation, although Rose has help in pruning and picking.  Otherwise he does his own spraying and delivers himself to stores in the area…  With hard work and TLC (tender loving care), it has steadily increased its yield.  The crop varies from year to year, since the apple is a biennial producer.