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Apple Picking Season Off To Strong Start At Masker Orchards

WARWICK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – In a sure sign that summer is nearing its end, apple picking season begins.

So what's the best way to find the best apples? CBS2's Vanessa Murdock traveled to Masker Orchards in Warwick, New York for some expert advice.

Operating Partner George Vurno, born and raised in Brooklyn, bought the 160 acres of budding apple trees in the late 1960s and watched business bloom, creating a go-to destination for pick-your-own apples.

After stopping there yearly with her family, 8-year-old Rowan shared her expert advice.

"When picking an apple, twist and pull is the best way to do it," she told Murdock.

Vurno confirmed she's right.

"It's better with the stem," he said. "It's better for the tree. We want to keep the trees producing."

And boy are they. Last year's crop was a short one. This year, the orchard is bursting at the seams with apples. The difference is weather-related, of course.

"Last year, we had a lite season, because of the freeze that we had in late April," Vurno said. "Well the trees must have saved a lot of vigor. And this year, they just went crazy."

Ideal weather for a good crop starts with a cold winter -- the trees need their rest – followed by a warm spring and summer, then a nice cool down just at summer's end, which is exactly what happened late August.

"The cold nights give it the color," Vurno said.

Friday's steamy sunshine didn't put the brakes on people's plans. Murdock caught many people eyeing up the delectable treats and sampling them.

"This is a Prime Red. It's delicious," Rowan said.

Prime Reds are ripe for the picking now, along with MacIntosh, Cortland and Granny Smith.

Will there be enough left for people to pick this weekend?

"Bring a Mac truck," Vurno said with a laugh.

"The experience here, the beauty, the coming up the hill and looking down over the orchard and the sky and the valley, it just makes you love New York," one woman said.

In addition to apples, Masker Orchards has other delicious treats like apple cider, apple doughnuts and apple pie. Plus, plenty of family fun.

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