One indicator is prices. Honeycrisp and Macoun commanded $3 a pound last year. Last week I saw both for a third of that.
Economists need look no further for a demonstration of the effects of a growth of supply on price, all else equal.
Similarly, this farm in New York is having a 50¢-a-pound pick-your own weekend:
Farm fans, the sale is ON! Rain or shine, mucky or ducky. 50¢/pound u-pick apples starting now! Bundle up! #twithaca pic.twitter.com/D3XMG3SORx(Found that one on my stream of orchard tweets.)
— Indian Creek Farm (@indiancreekfarm) October 26, 2013
Beyond supply and demand, I am seeing some huge apples, McIntoshs and Opalescents that are too big to eat at one sitting.
There is also unprecedented variety at farmers market, including such heritage apples as Ashmead's Kernel (!) and Westfield Seek-No-Further.
The Ashmeads, sadly, were picked at least a week or two early (why do they do that?), but finding one at my local greenmarket is a little like spotting a unicorn in my back yard.
To be sure, finding these treasures at the market also suggests that a healthy interest in heirlooms by both growers and consumers is bearing fruit. Hooray!
In supermarkets, I am finally seeing piles of Sweetangos (not at their peakiest peak, but pretty good), and also Ambrosia and Piñata, usually reserved for December and January respectively.
What does all this mean? First of all, this is the week to buy apples. There's not much left on the trees, and many farm stands and markets will shut down after Halloween.
Second, bounty bodes well for the winter. Last year the Macouns gave out early in supermarkets. I reasonably expect to be eating them into February of 2014.
Finally, at a dollar a pound, I hope the farmers are making it up in volume.