After a harsh season in which growers struggled to produce enough apples, this season's warm and steady weather is a welcome relief.

So says Matthew Critz, co-owner of Critz Farms in Cazenovia.

"Everything looks great," Critz said."There's tons of fruit blossoms, everything is progressing along and we're right where we should be for right now. I don't think my orchard has ever looked this nice."

Critz says many of the 2,000 apple trees he owns are bursting with buds, which may lead to a bumper crop this fall. He may also have to drop some apples in late June, if there are too many drawing nutrients from the trees.

This echos the same results seen on more than 55,000 acres of apple orchards throughout the state, providing promise for the state's more than 11.3 million apple trees. The recent series of 70 degree days has prompted buds to bloom, starting first toward New York City, then into the Mohawk Valley and other regions this week.

Critz says the recent mild winter didn't hurt matters much, either.

"Last year, we didn't bear anything at all, so there was a lot of energy in the trees," Critz said. "Hopefully, this will get us back up to a normal crop level or actually a good year, and then next year we'll have another normal level year."

In 2012, apple trees were treated to 70 degree weather for a week during March before being hit hard by early-season freezes, killing the blooming buds. Many growers were unable to recover and lost large portions of their crops.

"[Our farm is] the poster child for diversified agriculture," Critz said. "If you diversify and you do enough different things, like last year the guys that were just apple farmers... it was a really year on them. Whereas we do a bunch of other things, so it didn't hurt us quite as much. It kind of spreads your risk over a bunch of different crops."

But, with a bumper crop in place and warm enough temperatures to keep heavy losses at bay, Critz is ready for the fall, when his apples can be picked and he can celebrate an excellent year.

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