Apples have short season in Chilton

Published 1:28 pm Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

Apples are usually a fall fruit, but they make their appearance on Chilton County trees much sooner.

“Apples down here start the end of July, and we will finish up the end of August,” Andy Millard of Mountain View Orchards said. “Every once in a while, we will have a real good crop that will go into Sept. 10 or so.”

Varieties of apples that would be ready later have not done well in the Chilton County climate.

Millard said apples grow better in the northern part of Alabama.

“They have a lot cooler weather, a higher elevation,” Millard said.

Diseases, such as bitter rot, and pests also present challenges to a Chilton County apple crop.

Apples have been on the Mountain View Orchards property since the early 1930s. At one time, there was 100 acres of apple trees on the property. The orchard was originally run by the Durbin family, then Millard’s father-in-law Steve Wilson joined the business. Back then, much of the crop was sold wholesale to grocery stores in season. This was before controlled atmosphere storage allowed fruit to be kept by the grocery stores longer. Millard said the orchard has downsized since then, but still has six or seven distinct varieties.

Today, most of the apples are sold straight to consumers or restaurants.

“They are wonderful fresh apples, you can’t beat them,” Millard said.

Millard said his favorites are Gala and Golden Delicious.

Golden Delicious is a versatile variety. Millard said these apples are good whether fresh from the tree, cooked or dried.

“The Gala is hard to beat because they are sweet,” Millard said.

The trees at Mountain View Orchards are smaller than traditional apple trees. The trees use dwarf root stock to keep the trees short enough to harvest apples without a ladder. Millard said it also allows more trees to fit on an acre of land.