Fewer apples, but better quality expected for 2019 Quebec harvest

Quebec's apple harvest is expected to be a bit lighter this year.

The most recent estimates from Quebec's apple producers' association predicted the harvest will garner 5.3 million bushels of apples. 

Over the last 15 years, the average harvest has been 5.8 million bushels. That's about a nine per cent drop. 

Marc-Antoine Lasnier is the owner of the Cidrerie Milton in Sainte-Cécile-de-Milton in the Eastern Townships. 

Lasnier says some branches on his orchard's 30,000 trees are bare this year, which means higher labour costs at picking time. 

"It will be more expensive to harvest because pickers will have to walk a lot, go up and down the ladder a lot," he said. 

But he says there are upsides to a smaller crop. 

"When we have a smaller crop, we have more sugar and aroma in the apple," Lasnier told CBC News. 

For a cider brewery, that means a more potent product. 

The producers' association also said it was optimistic about the quality of apples that will be harvested. 

Bryan Eneas/CBC News

He says the changing climate is a main factor in the type of harvest he yields. This year, Lasnier says his harvest will take place a week or two later than usual.

"We are impacted," Lasnier said. 

According to the producers' association, McIntosh apples largely dominate the list of 2019 crop estimates. Next are Cortland, Spartan, Empire and Paulared varieties. 

The organization represents 500 apple producers. It says Quebec's apple crop estimates can vary by 15 per cent, and actual production can fluctuate depending on weather conditions before harvest.