WINCHESTER, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia farmers are having a thriving apple season despite labor shortages and concerns over damage from Hurricane Ian.

Farmers are attributing this year’s harvest to favorable weather, as well as planning after last season. Joe Snapp, the owner of West Oaks Farm and Market and chair of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s Apple Advisory Committee, said summer rainfall is a big reason farmers are seeing so many apples now.

Donald Ayers, the owner of Ayers Orchard in Carroll County, said that because his farm got freezing weather during the 2021 season, he spent last year preparing fruit buds for 2022. There was also a lack of summer rain in 2021, as opposed to this year.

This impressive yield is despite rain and wind damage from Hurricane Ian, which heavily impacted other farmers this year, especially in Florida.

Despite this year’s success, farms are slightly behind while harvesting the apples. A U.S. Department of Agriculture crop report from Oct. 17 showed that 78% of Virginia’s apples were harvested, which is down slightly from that time last year.

However, according to Ayers, this delay has less to do with the number of apples and more to do with labor shortages.

“The labor issue is getting to be the biggest problem — finding people to pick them,” Ayers said.

Still, demand for apples remains high as people bake pies, make cider or just eat the apples all on their own. Ayers said that Pink Ladies are the most popular variety he grows, along with Fujis, Arkansas Black and York.