How Eight Straight Rainy Weekends Devastated Apple-Picking Farms

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By Ketrin Agustine

How Eight Straight Rainy Weekends Devastated Apple-Picking Farms

Eight straight weekends of rain have pushed the pick-your-own orchards toward financial disaster.

It was a beautiful Friday afternoon in the Hudson Valley, 70 degrees in October and not a cloud in the sky: perfect weather for apple picking.

All over the 175 acres of Barton Orchards, in Poughquag, a town about 20 miles east of Beacon, moms and dads in T-shirts were pulling apple-laden carts down the orchard avenues, or staging photos of their children gleefully toddling around a pumpkin patch. A small crowd awaited a pig race, some of them clutching little checkered flags they had purchased for a dollar.

But Peter Barton, the farm’s owner, couldn’t help but be preoccupied with the forecast. The weekend outlook had recently shifted from two dry days to just one. Steady showers were predicted for Sunday.

“That’ll be eight weekends in a row,” Mr. Barton said. “It’s absolutely, absolutely unheard-of.”

According to Mr. Barton, this has been, without question, the most miserable fall tourism season since he converted the family apple orchard to a pick-your-own outfit in the 1990s. Over the decades, Mr. Barton said, he has spent “millions upon millions” building the venture up, adding a corn maze, an enormous playground, a petting zoo, and a tap room that sells hard cider and local microbrews. In recent years, he said, the property has drawn more than 10,000 visitors on peak weekends.

For Barton Orchards, which like many apple-picking farms makes most of its annual income from tourists filling bags with Galas, McIntoshes and Honeycrisps during two months in the autumn, the recent spate of wet weather has been nothing short of disastrous.

Last Friday and Saturday were beautiful, the first nice weekend on Apple Dave’s farm since Labor Day. Theo Costanza, 3, of Queens, fills a bag with his father.Kirsten Luce for The New York Times


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