Apple orchards, pumpkin patches feeling the heat from record temps

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DANVILLE, Ind. — Indianapolis reached a record high 92 degrees on Monday, and unseasonably warm weather is creating headaches for seasonal businesses.

Apple orchards and pumpkin patches have just a small window of time to make their money, and the temperatures have helped in some ways and also hurt in others.

“We’ve got a lot of apples on the ground that normally we would not have,” said Calvin Beasley, owner of Beasley Orchard. “This is just from the heat, it’s dropping prematurely. We can’t even get through here and pick them fast enough.”

Take a walk around the orchard, and you’ll quickly notice how the heat has taken its toll. They’ve had to change their strategy and schedules thanks to the weather,

“We’re out here at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, in the dark, picking with headlamps on trying to pick the fruit off the trees,” Beasley said. “It’s a struggle”

As Beasley explains, apples ripen from the heat but get their color from the sun. With normal sunlight but higher heat than usual, the timing is off. So while the apples are ready to eat and pick now, the color isn’t quite ready.

“From a color perspective, we would have liked to wait another 3-4 days to get out here,” Beasley said. “An apple like jonagold, the customer is going to want a lot of red color. These are not going to have that.”

However, other crops have benefited from the heat. Pumpkins were behind schedule thanks to a wet spring.

“We actually had to replant all 30 acres of our pumpkins, so we were planting pumpkins from July 5-10,” Beasley said. “That’s usually a really bad thing for your pumpkin yields.

However, the heat has made up for lost time, putting the pumpkin patch right where it needed to be,

“This unseasonably hot weather that we’ve been having actually helped to push our pumpkins a little bit more and we feel extremely lucky to have the pumpkin patch that we do,” Beasley said.

However, the one big issue is the traffic. Beasley Orchard features an apple cannon, hay rides, corn maze and plenty of fall activities. But with summer like temperatures, Beasley says business is half what it normally is.

“We’ve actually had all the fall attractions open the past two weekends, and attendance is not at all what we’d normally expect to see,” Beasley said.

“I think fall as a season is very emotional, and if it doesn’t feel like fall, people aren’t necessarily ready to do fall things.”

This weekend, Beasley Orchard is hosting their annual Apple Festival and are hoping to see fall like temperatures return.

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