Apples and cider define a large part of Hudson Valley heritage. Until the 1930s, when Florida and California entrepreneurs began to market orange juice, people drank more cider than any other juice. Today’s value-added products—hard cider and distilled spirits—make the future look even brighter for Hudson Valley apples.
While national production of maple syrup dropped in 2018, New York set a new production record at over 800,000 gallons. Thank new technology, the weather, and the abundance of sugar maples (Acer saccharum), the official New York State tree. New York has the highest concentration of maples of any state in the nation, and even beats out Quebec. Some estimate the Hudson Valley has the potential for more than 31 million maple taps.
More than 26,000 acres of rich “black dirt” (remnants of an ancient glacial lake) in southern and central Orange County form the core of the Hudson Valley’s Black Dirt Region, once the largest onion-growing area in the United States. More than 70 farms once supplied 25 percent of the nation’s onions—up to 5 tons of onions per acre. Onion production is down now, but the rich soil still supports diversified crops, including celery, carrots, lettuce, mushrooms and potatoes.