MARIETTA - Better late than never.
Though September's above average rainfall did little to help summer staples such as corn, soybeans and hay, it has helped ensure a more bountiful fall offering.
"We've just had rain at the right times. We've had a wonderful pumpkin harvest and also our corn maze is great," said Mona Barrett, owner of Sweetapple Farm in Vincent.
Photo by Jasmine Rogers
Tom Burch inspects some of the few remaining apples at Hidden Hills Orchard, where he and wife Cathy have been forced to scale back apple sales this year. An April freeze killed many of their apples, and summer drought conditions stunted the growth of the remaining crop.
While corn was one of the crops hardest hit by the dry summer weather, Sweetapple's corn is planted much later than corn intended for harvest, explained Barrett.
"This corn is planted strictly for the maze and about the week before Thanksgiving, we allow the cows to go in and eat the corn," she said.
Along with the corn maze, Sweetapple offers school tours, pumpkin patches and a variety of local produce and products. The pumpkins, which are just as large as always, have already been popular with visitors, said Barrett.
* Sweetapple Farm - www.sweetapplefarm.com
Open in October: Friday 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.
Offers a corn maze, pumpkin picking, school tours and local produce.
*?Hidden Hills Orchard - www.hiddenhillsorchard.com
Open Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.
Call first at 376-9170 to confirm they are open.
Sells apples, apple butter, apple salsa, apple cider and many other apple products.
"They really like to pick their pumpkins out of the field. It is just the joy of the family getting together," she said.
While Sweetapple's fall favorites have fared well, Barrett acknowledged that not all fall crops have been as lucky.
"We sell local apples and everyone has said their apple crops are much less than what they normally are," said Barrett.
Hidden Hills Orchard, located on Ohio 26 and formerly known as Grimm's Green Acres, has been forced to greatly scale back apple sales this year.
"This year we are going to end up closing early because we are going to end up running out of apples," said Cathy Burch, who owns the orchard along with husband, Tom.
On a good year, Hidden Hills wholesales apples to Giant Eagle and offers a pick-your-own apples business at the orchard. This year they have had to scale back.
"This year all we are doing is picking ready pick apples," said Burch.
But unlike summer's scrawny crops, the year's unsteady apple crop can not entirely be attributed to the drought. A cold snap in the spring killed much of the apple crop, said Burch.
"We were more affected by the freeze last April. The trees that did still have apples on them, because of the drought, they did not size out," she explained.
Thankfully, last year's apple crop at Hidden Hills Orchard was the best Burch has ever seen. Many of last year's extra apples were made into nonperishable products like apple butter, apple cider, apple salsa and apple jelly, which Burch has been selling at her orchard and at local farmers' markets.
"We still had apples in January last year and this year they will all be gone by mid-October," said Burch.
The orchard will close after it participates in the Little Muskingum Watershed Association Fall Foliage Tour, which takes place Oct. 13 and 14, said Burch.
Fall leaves might have also benefited from the recent rains. The dry summer may have led to leaves changing color and falling earlier than usual, but September rainfall has helped them hang on to their branches, said Karen Eddy, coordinator of the LMWA Fall Foliage Tour.
"I think they were dying more so than changing," said Eddy of the early changing leaves.
But rather than falling early and leaving a barren landscape for the foliage tour, the leaves still provide a thick, colorful backdrop.
"I think we just got enough rain right at the right time to slow them down a little bit," said Eddy.
She anticipates that the upcoming foliage tour will be one of the best ever.
"Each year it seems like they just get prettier," said Eddy of the "leafscape."