WICHITA, KS (AP)--Heat and drought are blamed for smaller apples, but orchards are still reporting good crops as the fruit harvest gets under way in Kansas.
Customers were recently picking their own fruit at Steffen's Orchard near Conway Springs, southwest of Wichita.
Suzanne Green and her 4-year-old son, Mitchell, took home two boxes of apples along with seven boxes of peaches.
"I freeze them to make pies and cobblers and such all year long," she said.
This year's apples will be smaller than most but looked good overall, orchard owner Phil Steffen said. Hot, dry weather is the reason, he said.
"We have drip irrigation, and that has kept the trees healthy," Steffen said. "But it does not do the job that rain does. It keeps the trees going, but we cannot get enough water on them to keep up the size of the fruit."
At Ark Valley Orchard near Arkansas City, owner Jim Hardy said he has been watering night and day and has kept the trees fairly healthy, although he has lost some apples.
Both orchards will have apples well into the fall as more varieties continue to ripen. Speers Orchard, also near Arkansas City, will have apples available in late October.