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Ripe for the picking

Adams Acres is the only organic ‘U-pick’ apple orchard in CNY

Bill Adams stands in the apple orchard in his backyard. Adams Acres spans 2.5 acres and offers eight varieties of apples throughout the picking season, which normally lasts until the end of October.

Bill Adams stands in the apple orchard in his backyard. Adams Acres spans 2.5 acres and offers eight varieties of apples throughout the picking season, which normally lasts until the end of October. Allie Wenner

— And because they only use certain materials to grow their apples, the kinds of apples they offer aren’t always what you’d normally see at a grocery store. Bill said his Liberty and Spartan apples are similar in taste to some of the bigger names like Cortland or Macintosh, but they’re a little different in terms of genetics.

“They’re not genetic mutations or anything like that, they’re just bred differently,” he said. “Can you grow a Cortland apple organically? I guess you could, but you’d be at a huge disadvantage because those varieties get scabbed and diseased very easily unless you spray them [with pesticides].”

Bill, who graduated from Cornell with a degree in Agriculture Business, works full time – he’s currently in the process of launching a new business selling commercial LED lighting. And Kathy also works full time as the school nurse at East Syracuse Elementary school. So the nine to ten months of work they must dedicate to the orchard comes out of their free time.

The year starts in February, where they order anything they need for the coming season. In March, Bill prunes all 13,075 trees, which takes almost the entire month. From April to mid-summer, there is weeding, fertilizing and training to be done, which keeps them busy until about August. From then, they have a break until the picking season starts in September.

“I spend about 15 to 20 hours a week out there,” said Bill. “Every year it gets a little easier because you learn your lessons and how to do things more quickly. We have no employees besides ourselves and our kids.”

And most importantly, the apples are good. In fact, you would never be able to tell the difference between the Adams’ apples and non-organic apples by looking at them, except for a dusting of small white dots on the skin.

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