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Minnesota apple orchards adjust for coronavirus, expect fewer profits

Safety measures are in place at several local orchards, but canceled festivals and attractions could mean fewer profits this season.

HASTINGS, Minn. — Apple picking is a fall staple here in Minnesota. As you might have already guessed, the pandemic is already having a huge impact on the season.

For Afton Apple Orchard's 31st year in Hastings, they'll still have apples, apple picking, sunflowers, picnic tables and concessions. However, there will be no festivals.

They'll still have hayrides this year, but you'll need to wear a mask. Masks are required indoors with six feet social distancing, and expect to see plexiglass at checkouts.

Just off Highway 169 at the Minnesota Harvest Orchard in Jordan, the orchard is only expecting to make half their yearly profit, in part due to no tractor rides, corn or sun flower mazes. They're currently closed Tuesday through Thursday to allow more time for things like disinfecting.

"We just try to put in the time with the customers we do get here and we are trying to figure out ways we can make delivery work for food and for our hard ciders with discounts for people to come in," said Cody Cook with Minnesota Harvest.

Minnesota Harvest also has the standard mask and social distancing requirement indoors, but they also require hand sanitizing before and after apple picking, and masks while picking.

"It's important to help prevent the spread, when people are out there, they might look at an apple, they might touch it first and then they might decide they didn't want to pick it. You go out there afterwards and you could be picking up that same one and biting into it," Cook said.

According to Cook, the orchard may return to a seven day schedule as early as September.

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