Hot weather impacting local pumpkin patches and apple orchards

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Due to how cool the spring started out in 2023, the warmer weather at first was beneficial. It also helped with the rain we got leading up to Mother’s Day. Fred Kappauf, who owns Sekapp Orchard in Rochester, remembers when we were not in a drought. “We had a really great Spring. We had a little over seven inches those first 10 or 12 days in May.”

Then the rain dried up, and summer got hot. Too much heat increases the odds that pumpkins fall off their blossoms and either fail to grow or do not become as mature as they need to be. Instead of becoming a dark orange, they become yellow or even stay green. For apples, they do not fill in as solid red or green as they would if it were cooler outside. In fact, too much heat can leave apples sunburnt, with pink or brown spots depending on the apple. Kappuaf had this issue with some of his apples. “It had a little adverse effect on the apples. The apples that were exposed, a lot to the south, they were in full sun. They had a lot of sunburn.”

The warmer weather also affects the bottom line. Kappauf notices that most people like to come in the morning. “The You Pick business has been down. People have been coming in the mornings trying to beat the heat.”

With that, fewer people have been coming in the afternoon since apple picking and pumpkin patches are viewed as more Fall activities. Minnesotans and Iowans are used to MUCH cooler weather than the 80s and 90s by the beginning of October. It is also hard to work in these conditions. “My help hasn’t been very happy with the heat. It gets hot out here. Everybody is sweaty” stated Kappauf when asked about his staff managing the heat.

Despite the challenges, those at Sekapp have persevered. But they are ready for cooler weather.

Sekapp added this about the heat. “Gets a little old when we get to the beginning of October and we’re still hitting 90 degrees. We’ve all had enough of it. We like the change of seasons.”

Cooler weather is in the forecast for the rest of the week, and 90s do not appear in the forecast anytime soon.

For rainfall, Sekapp Orchard got just over 3.5 inches of rain over the period of September 22-24. This helped apple trees grow, creating the potential for more apples at the orchard this fall. It also helps provide moisture to pumpkins that have long-needed rain.