Apple picking season is underway in New Jersey and this year's harvest is bountiful, according to Pam Mount, owner of Terhune Orchards in Lawrence.

Diego Cervo/Thinkstock

Every growing season in New Jersey presents challenges and this year was no different, Mount said.

"We started out in the cold spring and were wondering how it all would work, with the proper pollination and such, but it all has turned out," she said. "All the varieties seem to be ripening up, maybe just a tad slower than some years, but we're cranking."

New Jersey's climate of not being too hot or too cold makes it favorable for just about everything to grow here, she said.

Apple trees are hearty, as opposed to peach trees, which may last only about 20 or 30 years.

"We have some some apple trees here which are 100 years old and still bearing," Mount said.

When farmers have an opportunity to plant new trees, they usually try varieties that have more resiliency and can withstand a cold winter and a warm summer.

At Terhune Ochards, they use a trickle irrigation system, which Mount explained is just dripping a small amount of water onto the exact root system so the trees don't dry out.

"The local farmers in New Jersey are pretty adaptable, and that's the key to success," she said.

Terhune Ochards grows about 35 types of apples that will be ready at different times throughout the picking season, which lasts longer, from mid-July until the end of November, because it doesn't get cold as soon as it used to.

"Each apple has its own little distinctive variation on the theme. Some are more tart, some are more sweet, some are big, some are smaller, some are red, some are yellow. They have an interesting variety."

Gala, Jonamacs and Honey Crisp are ready in September, and Pink Lady and Granny Smith, relatively new apples developed in New Zealand, will be ready at the end of the picking season.

"A favorite of many people, for sort of the lunch box and easy eating, is an Empire apple, which was developed maybe 20 or 30 years ago in New York," Mount said.

In addition to using refrigerated storage to keep apples at their peak freshness, Mount said Terhune Orchards uses "controlled atmosphere" storage.

"The apples, when they ripen from starch to sugar, breath in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide, so we put them in this special refrigerated storage and we lower the oxygen level, so they actually sleep through the winter and into the spring. We have really great apples now all year long, because we can store them properly," said Mount.

Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com.

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