The Apple Industry
After World War I, Habersham County farmers found that the apple trees in the area were unaffected by the drought and boll weevil which doomed the cotton harvest, so they planted more trees and spawned a new industry. Profits from the juicy red and green fruit help offset the losses of the "cotton bust" of the early 1920s. The famous Big Red Apple was constructed in 1925 to celebrate the industry's success in Habersham County.
The Big Red Apple stands on the railway depot grounds in downtown Cornelia. The replica of the North Georgia apple is seven feet tall and 22 feet in circumference. It weighs 5,200 pounds and is painted in natural colors. The apple is constructed of steel and concrete and was molded in Winchester, Va., in 1925. It is erected on a concrete pedestal eight feet high and six feet square at the base. The monument was donated by Southern Railway. Cornelia hosts the Big Red Apple Festival, featuring crafts, specialty foods, entertainment of all kinds, an antique car show and the "Big Red Apple 5K Run" the first weekend of October each year and has become known as "The Home of the Big Red Apple."
Georgia's apple season typically extends from July through December. Georgia farmers grew about 9.5 billion pounds of apples in 2005 according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture. There are an estimated 360,000 apple-bearing trees in Georgia.
The most popular varieties include Ozark Gold and Paulard (July and August); Red Delicious and Golden Delicious (July-December); Rome Beauty and Mutzu Crispin (August-December); Empire, Jonagold, and Jonathan (August-September); Arkansas Black, Fuji, Granny Smith, Stayman Winesap, and Yates (October-December).
Fall a Time for Fresh Apples
By Butch Ferree
Fall is particularly hectic for the apple industry in the north Georgia mountains. Harvest began about the first of August with the picking of Ginger Gold. It will continue into November when they finish up with Arkansas Black, Granny Smith and Yates.
Sandwiched between the early- and late-season varieties are many other apples of superb quality. These apples can be used a multitude of ways, from pies to salads to muffins to fresh eating. And they come in a taste range from sweet to tart.
For more than half a century, Georgia apple growers concentrated on growing a handful of varieties they shipped to distant markets.
In recent years, however, they've expanded their variety selection to meet the demands of retail customers. On a given day, it's not unusual to find 10 or more varieties in a north Georgia apple grower's retail market.
Depending on the market, you may also find sourdough apple bread, fried apple pies, cider, jellies, frozen cider drinks, a restaurant -- you name it!
Few fruits or vegetables are better for you than apples. So throw a few in the picnic box for the football game or in your child's lunch box.
If you'd like to know more about the many uses of Georgia apples and a guide to retail markets, drop a note to the Georgia Apple Commission, 328 Agriculture Building, Capital Square, Atlanta, Georgia 30334. They'll be glad to help you.
This story by Butch Ferree was published online at Georgia FACES (Family, Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences), a product of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, including the Georgia Cooperative Extension Service and the Georgia Agricultural Experiment Stations.)