East Lyme - Apple-picking season was in full swing Sunday at Scott's Yankee Farmer, as people picked varieties from McIntoshes to Mutsus in the sunny weather.
While an early frost and summer drought has decreased apple crops in some parts of the nation, co-owner Karen Scott is grateful that her crop was bountiful.
"We feel really blessed," she said.
In fact, Scott's produced about 5,000 to 6,000 bushels of apples this year, compared to an average of about 4,500 in earlier years.
The farm's environmental climate may have helped protect the apples, according to Scott. The apples blossomed two to three weeks earlier in the spring than normal, but the farm's proximity to the ocean had a cooling effect in the early season and later a warming effect.
"That ocean was helpful to us both at the front end and the back end," she said.
She added that rainy fall last year also helped.
While the apple crop was unscathed at Scott's, the frost lowered the production of raspberries by as much as 25 to 30 percent. The frost also reached the strawberries, but did not harm them, she said.
Scott explained that while a damaged apple crop would have had a negative impact, the farm's diverse crops could protect it financially. Scott's sells fruits and vegetables, such as sweet corn, winter squash, raspberries, peaches, blueberries, and soon pumpkins. The farm has also experienced other weather-induced problems previously, such as a pumpkin shortage last year.
On Sunday, visitors to Scott's enjoyed plucking apples from the orchard's color-tagged trees indicating varieties from the softer McIntosh to the firmer Ida Reds and planned ways to use their new apples.
Cathy Day and her daughter, Cailyn, 9, of East Lyme were out picking McIntosh apples after a bike ride to the farm.
"We want apples to make applesauce," explained Cailyn with a smile. She said the day was fun and that she climbed up to pick apples near the top of the trees.
"It's a nice fall activity," said Day, who added that she wanted to buy locally-grown apples.
For some, the trip to Scott's was a new foray into apple picking. Eve Stokes, of Niantic, said her nephew plucked the first apple of the day for his first apple-picking trip. "He's so happy," she said. "He's been talking about it for weeks."
Margaret England, of Middleborough, Mass., who visited the orchard as part of a trip to visit her sister, said her son, Matthew, 5, might bring the Cortland and Macoun apples they picked to school and even share one with his teachers.
"Is it delicious?" she asked her son, who happily crunched on a Cortland apple at a picnic table.
"Delicious," he confirmed.