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Business Is Booming For Cider Mills With Bumper Apple Crop

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tomjordan Tom Jordan
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SOUTH LYON (WWJ) - A bumper crop for Michigan apple farmers this year, and the local cider mills are loving it.

“This time of the year we’re reaping the benefits of all that hard work all year long,” said Linda Erwin, whose family has owned the current location of Erwin Orchards in South Lyon since 1954.

Nine months of tireless work, caring for the 54-thousand different trees, all comes down to this … the fall season. The big payoff. The Erwin Cider Mill here at Silver Lake Road and Kent Lake Road draws in a huge crowd.

“We estimate that we get about a quarter million people here on a season,” said Erwin. That’s about  7000 people on a single weekend day.

It’s a massive increase from last season. “Mother nature has helped out with the weather, the cool weather causes the apples to be colored nicely — that nice red color,” she added.

The U.S. Apple Association expects a total of 30 million bushels this year. The average is 20 million. Last year was about 3 million.

There are thousands of apple trees on the orchard — producing a variety of apples. The most popular apple at Erwin Orchards is the Honey Crisp.

“We were very fortunate this year to have a bumper crop of Honey Crisp. Normally they last for less than a day and we had them for about nine days. It’s very, very juicy … very good tasting. I think a lot of it is the juiciness of it. It just kind of runs down your face,” Erwin said.

Most of the apples here have fared better than normal. A late spring warm-up allowed the apples to hold in their moisture, more time for development and when the warm-up did come — it stayed warm.

A single frost did damage one particular crop. “The ginger gold was the one that was affected the most by it. We could not even offer that on our list this year,” Erwin said.

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