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Drought takes toll on apple-picking season




Apples from Riley's at Los Rios Rancho in Yucaipa, CA.
Apples from Riley's at Los Rios Rancho in Yucaipa, CA.
Kara Brugman / Flickr

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Fall is officially here. And while it doesn't quite feel like it yet in Southern California, at least we can still don autumnal colors, down pumpkin spice lattes and go apple-picking, right?

Wrong. 

At least on that last one.

Thanks to the severe drought, apple-picking season has been cut short or in some places canceled all together. 

Conrad Young, owner of the Calico Ranch Orchard in the small mountain town of Julian, California, says in a normal year his orchard would yield 10,000 bushels of apples. But this year, there's virtually no crop.

"We're not even going to open," said Young. "The orchard is really parched. For the first time in 30 years, our well is drawn down. The few apples that are on the trees are about the size of small marbles." 

Young says that tourists can still come to Julian to enjoy the country experience, mine tours and apple-picking at the orchards that are open. And while this year will be a difficult one for the town, he's still optimistic for next year.

"If you're in agriculture, you're always optimistic," he says. "There's always next year and I really feel that it's going to be a good, wet year." 

You can hear our interview with Young at the link above.