Farmers in Madison County are busy with the planting season, and Critz Farms is no exception. Christmas trees, pumpkins, corn and flowers are consistently on the list, but this year, they are investing in the apple and cider side of the business. The Critzes are establishing a second apple orchard on their Rt. 13 farm in Cazenovia.

The existing apple orchard at Critz Farms, planted from 2005 to 2007, contains six acres of popular apples varieties, including Cortland, Macoun, Empire, Honeycrsip and several different types of McIntosh. “These traditional New York apples are great for eating and baking, and have been our mainstay in both the sweet apple cider and hard cider that we produce right here on our farm”, said Juanita Critz, who owns the farm with her husband Matthew. “Becoming apple growers and cider producers has been one of our best business decisions”, she added. Critz explained that revenues from apples and cider sales now make up 40% of the company’s gross income.

This week, the Critz Farms crew began planting their new orchard. “With the success of our hard cider business, we knew it was time to plant some special cider apple varieties” Matthew Critz explained. Critz has selected over ten different types of cider apples specifically for use in hard cider production. “These apples are high in tannins and interesting flavor profiles, and will add structure and complexity to our ciders,” said Critz. Until this new orchard begins to bear fruit, three growing seasons from now, the Critzes will continue to purchase their specialty apples from a grower in Ithaca, NY. According to Critz, having his own reliable supply of the right kinds of specialty cider apples was a key motivator for establishing the new orchard.

Critz Farms, located on Route 13 in Cazenovia, is a diversified agritourism farm that welcomes visitors from March through December. The Harvest Moon Cidery at Critz Farms is a small farm winery specializing in handcrafted hard cider. On Saturday, May 24, the Critzes will host Apple Blossom Bliss: A Critz Farms Spring Celebration from 12-6 pm. The family friendly event will include orchard tours to see the apple blossoms, live music, children’s activities, and a local foods lunch. Admission to the event is free. For more information visit critzfarms.com.