Weather this year ripe for apple, pumpkin picking in Dane County

COTTAGE GROVE, Wis. — Fall officially starts Thursday, but that hasn’t stopped many people from hitting up their local apple orchards and pumpkin patches. And they’re lucky– as this year’s weather guarantees a good harvest. 

No matter which of the 90 species of apple you’re after at Door Creek Orchard near Cottage Grove, the weather’s been ripe for the pickin’.  

“It’s been a great year for apples which is nice to say because it has not been a great year for apples for most of the past few years,” said Liz Griffith, the orchard’s owner and manager.

According to Griffith, this year the trees made it through a spring and summer without big extremes.

“We’ve managed to dodge most of the hail events this year,” she said. “We had a little bit in June with a tiny bit of damage… but then another one missed us just yesterday.”   

But she said the ideal apple conditions — a cold snowy winter, long cool spring with weekly rain, and milder summer – are becoming rare: “It would be a quote-unquote normal Wisconsin year.”  

“There’s no ideal Wisconsin year of weather anymore,” Griffith said. “The weather’s just gotten more challenging so with climate change, things are just becoming so much more unpredictable.”  

Because of that, she was grateful for a good start to the season on Labor Day for people to stock up on their fall favorites.

Meanwhile, pumpkins at Kalscheuer Pumpkin Patch near Middleton have found the weather pretty close to perfect. 

“It’s been a pretty good crop,” owner Doug Kalscheuer said. “The rains here lately have made a difference on us. Pumpkins like it dry in August and September, and we’ve had a lot of rain here in the last few weeks.”  

According to Kalscheuer, over time more people “gourd” big, or go home. 

“Twenty years ago we just had pumpkins: small pumpkins, medium, big pumpkins,” he said. “The last five to eight years now we’ve gone more into the colorful stuff — squashes, and stuff like that that people like to decorate with.”  

Kalscheuer Pumpkin Patch is open during the week from 12p.m. to 6p.m., and weekends 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  

Door Creek Orchard is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wed-Fri, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. 

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