Ellijay apple orchard grows first crop of Honey Crisps
The Honey Crisp apple is usually grown in places like Pennsylvania, Vermont, and New York. But, an apple orchard in Ellijay is using elevation, tree line, and bumblebees to replicate the northeast.
Barry Pritchett, the owner of Red Apple Barn, planted 50 honey crisp trees as a test, four years ago.
"The people at the nurseries told us, they won't grow in the south," says Pritchett.
The trees were planted at a higher elevation, at 1400 feet, and he uses bumblebees instead of honey bees for pollination.
"Honey bees at 60 degrees is their cutoff. They won't get out. If it's too windy, they won't work. If it's raining, they wont work. But bumblebees, they don't care. They will work in ANY kind of weather," adds Pritchett.
The replication of the northeast has worked better than Pritchett thought.
"We've had to go in and hand thin, two or three times, just trying to get the trees from breaking," states Pritchett.
The woods near the Honey Crisp trees helps provide relief from the afternoon sun. The trees have been strategically placed 30 feet from the woods because they still need 9 hours of sunlight, but after 5pm this area gets shade as the sun starts to descend on the western horizon.
The Honey Crisp Apple comes at a price too! You can pick these up for $1 to $2 a pop. The U-pick season opens this weekend. Click here to find out more info!