The drought of 2010 has been hard on many of Virginia’s agricultural crops, but the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) says the outlook for the 2010 apple crop is very good.

In early August, staff from VDACS’ Office of Sales and Market Development contacted growers representing the three major apple-growing areas of Virginia: Southwest, Central and the Northern Shenandoah Valley. With very few exceptions, growers indicated that the 2010 harvest should be normal, and in some places, even excellent despite record heat and what is turning out to be a major drought.

The earliest apples were ready for harvest approximately a week earlier than usual, starting with Paula Red apples in July, followed in late July/early August by Ginger Golds and Galas. Favorites such as Red and Golden Delicious apples are harvested in September followed by Rome apples in early October, York apples in early to mid-October, Winesaps, Staymans and Granny Smith apples in mid-October, and then Fujis in late October or early November. Many pick-your-own farms also offer heirloom and heritage varieties of apples.