It’s likely this issue’s cover looks familiar. After all, the photo — a fragile apple made of ice hanging like an ornament in a winter orchard — and a few other similar images erupted across the internet in a flurry of social media posts a year ago.
It all began on a cold day in Sparta, Michigan, in early February last year, when Andrew Sietsema, who works at AB Orchards, went about some winter pruning in a Jonagold block that held a few stragglers of leftover fruit from the previous harvest.
“Everything was coated with ice from an overnight storm,” explained Sietsema, who shared his story with us by email. “The tree would get shaken by the loppers, and sometimes the vinegary, melting, rotten apples would fall out of the base and leave a mostly intact ice capsule behind. So, there was indeed a hole in the underside, but I took the photos looking down at them, and the hole is difficult to see.”
Sietsema said the same thing happened with some Honeycrisp trees. He said usually the whole apple, ice and all, would fall to the ground. But not always.
“I took a handful of pictures on my phone and texted them to my wife as a joke and captioned it ‘ghost apples,’” he said. “I definitely didn’t think it would’ve warranted going viral because, I mean, fruit growers see cool things like this all the time when you’re outside all of the time. And it probably wasn’t as much of a freak-phenomenon as it was made out to be. But sure enough, later that evening after I posted it online, it went viral, which was quite comical and entertaining!”
Sietsema’s story of the ghost apples suddenly had lots of attention, even earning coverage on a host of popular news sites. Even now, if you do an internet search for “ghost apples,” Sietsema’s viral photos top the list.
Each year we select our covers from dozens of incredible images we receive from accomplished photographers who capture the beauty and the bounty of growing from all sorts of vantages. Like Sietsema says, growers see these incredible scenes every day, and we were thrilled when he submitted his photos from that cold February day and welcomed us to share them with all of you.
With the start of the new year, we’ve entered our twice-a-month schedule of issues, which will continue through May. And as always, you can expect more cool covers coming your way, too. •
—by Jared Johnson