The apple harvest in Iowa is in full swing after a difficult growing season. Paul Rasch, owner of Wilson’s Orchard near Solon in eastern Iowa, says many growers struggled this year with a big freeze in the spring and then the drought this summer.

“It was a challenge,” Rasch said. “The trees are deep rooted, but they need water. There’s a lot of water in that water. This year, we (installed) a drip irrigation system and that seems to have helped a lot.” Wilson’s Orchard typically produces about a million apples a season.

This year, Rasch predicts they’ll only have about 400,000. There’s a bit of a silver lining from the drought. “Because of the drought conditions, the flavor is outstanding,” Rasch said. “It’s really good flavored fruit this year – both sweet and just enough zing to make them appealing.”

Wilson’s Orchard normally sells apples to grocery stores, but because of this year’s relatively weak harvest, Rasch said they’ll only be selling their produce directly to customers at the orchard. Rasch said the spring freeze was the most damaging freeze his family has seen in five generations of growing apples.

By Jill Kasperie, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids