'How 'you like them apples?'

By Kelly McCarthy

September 12, 2013 Updated Sep 13, 2013 at 12:39 AM EDT

Town of Chenango, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Last year's apple season was one of the worst on record in New York state, producing only one-third of its normal crop.

Thanks to a mild summer, absent much severe weather, this year's crop will be very different, local farmers say.

The view families can see at Apple Hills wasn't nearly as perfect this time last year. In order to grow this fresh fruit, it requires a combination of cool nights and sunny days.

"We've been having them lately," said part owner Dave Johnson, "And that brings on the colors and the sugars so we're having ideal conditions right up until the harvest time."

Apple Hills is a you-pick fruit farm with 10 acres dedicated to apples. Its McIntosh, Cortland and Gala apples are ready to be picked this weekend.

"Don't snap an apple off," Johnson said, "You're better off coming up and turning it off. It turns off very easily and you'll be pleased if you pick apples that way."

Johnson said he's often asked how to tell if an apple is ready to be eaten. If an apple's seeds are deep brown, then it's ready to go, he said.

"I like to bake, so I'm here," said Katherine Lockwood, of Binghamton, "We're going to bake a pie and make applesauce. I heard because there was good rain, good weather, it is a good season for apple picking. I'm excited."

Johnson said the apples this year are in perfect condition, but that could have all changed if this weeks' weather was any worse -- as predicted.

"I'm a little leery that we might get some hail and high winds (Thursday)," Johnson said, "So all that work I've done all year can just be done away with in five minutes. So I'm going to be a nervous little guy until this cold front moves through."

When the potential for crop devastation is on the horizon, Johnson says it's hard to concentrate on anything else.

"Hey you know, Dave's going to be out of sync today," Johnson joked, "Leave him alone don't talk to him, don't do anything strenuous to make him think today because he's going to be psyched out today until the storm goes by."

While families harvest some of the best New York state apples, Johnson will be holding his breath until he knows his crop is safe.

Apple picking season usually lasts until the end of October, but different varieties ripen at different times.

Apple Hills Farm is open seven days a week.