Sun Journal quotes Moran in article about Ricker Hill Orchards
The Sun Journal quoted Renae Moran, an associate professor of pomology and a fruit tree specialist with University of Maine Cooperative Extension, in a story about Ricker Hill Orchards. The eighth-generation orchard faces industry challenges of poor crop yields and competition, while also dealing with debt that resulted from expanding its side operations to remain competitive. The family farm offers the classic draws of pick-your-own apples, children’s activities and more, and recent expansions have included hard cider and wine production, disc golf and a wedding venue. Moran estimated Ricker Hill is either the largest or second-largest grower in the state among 80 apple farms, encompassing 400 acres between Greene, Auburn, Turner, Harrison, Bridgton, Minot and Hebron. Of that land, 360 acres are dedicated to apples. Moran said supermarket consolidation gave the companies “more power in determining the price of apples. That really weakens the whole industry.” And aging farmers and a lack of people from younger generations interested in taking over the orchards also contributed to the decline. According to Moran, “farmers always describe [crop] from a different perspective, how much money they’re making and whether or not they can pay their bills. I describe it from a perspective of the quality of the fruit and the size of the yield, total bushels produced in the state.” She told the Sun Journal yield is down this year, but quality is better.