North Georgia apple growers celebrate bumper crop, but keep an eye on Ian

GILMER COUNTY, Ga. — John Reece said it all started for him when he was 5 years old. 

“I was raised right here on the farm in the house next to the Apple House,” Reece said at B.J. Reece Orchards,  one of North Georgia’s largest.

The orchard has been going on for 60 years, through good times and sometimes bad. Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen visited the orchard on Tuesday to see how much their crops had grown.

“Our crop got damaged Easter week in 2021. Cold weather killed it,” Reece said.

It happened to every apple grower in Ellijay.  The industry lost millions of dollars.

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This season, Reece told Channel 2 Action News the weather was as close to perfect as it gets. On this farm, more than 200 acres of trees are full of fruit. 

“We come here every year and let all the little ones pick apples together,” Kristen Reece said. Most of the visitors come from around Atlanta. Sometimes thousands of people a day come to pick their own apples. “I think it’s a great little getaway. You feel like you’re kind of in a different world,” Jennifer Tapley said.

John Reece admits things got a little lonely out here in 2021 because of that freeze, and even now he’s watching the weather far out to sea in the Gulf of Mexico. If and when what’s left of Hurricane Ian comes through the North Georgia mountains, it could cause trouble. 

“Two or three years ago we had a storm come in. We had a good crop of apples and we lost 600 trees. They blew over,” John Reece said.


For now, they’re celebrating one of their best apple crops ever. “It’s a blessing to see everybody come out. We make friends, people we’ve now known for years.  We met them here at The Apple House and they come back every year,” John Reece said.

You can learn more about B.J. Reece Orchards in Ellijay here.

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