Apple orchard thrives as autumn begins

Binder's apple orchard has been very busy so far this season, despite recent drought conditions.

Sandy Binder owns and operates one of the few apple orchards in mid-Missouri.

Fall officially began Sunday, and she said she has been busier than ever.

"It's increased this year. I was...I mean we had cars lined up all the way down the driveway yesterday," said Binder, the owner of Binder's Hilltop Apple and Berry Farm that's just outside Mexico.

Binder has about three acres of land for apples and other produce, and about 700 apple trees.

She lost some of those to the heat last year, but bounced back with this year's gala apples, one of the most popular varieties.

Binder said the cool, wet late spring and early summer has allowed for one of the best gala apple crops she's seen in 18 years. The apples this year are even bigger than last year.

While the galas thrived, she said she's had to irrigate some of her younger trees and other produce due to the recent drought conditions.

"We had rain in the spring but after we put in our vegetable crop [we haven't had much] and we've got new apple trees that we put out last year and they need water...otherwise they're not going to make it," said Binder.

However, the orchard has been fruitful for apple pickers, and everyone has their favorite.

"Enterprise, they're my favorite. The orchard is beautiful this year, loaded with apples. It doesn't seem as if the trees were as full last year, but we have been coming here for about 6 or 7 years," said Lori Terry, an apple picker at the orchard Monday.

Late-season varieties are still available for picking through the fall, including Granny Smith, Fuji, and Rome.

Binder expects the number of apples to decrease after an annual open house this weekend at the orchard.