The plentiful rain is helping the 2000 Ohio apple crop to size up well according to Jim Moore, apple grower in Oak Harbor. "We are looking at good yields and the ample moisture provided by rain will lead to excellent quality, large apples that our customers enjoy eating," said Moore.

This plentiful Ohio apple crop comes on the heels of recent research at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. that found nutrients found in both apple skin and flesh inhibited the growth of colon cancer and liver cancer cells. Scientists believe that these phytonutrients can protect the body against chronic disease caused by the effects of the natural, but damaging, oxidation process. Antioxidants protect against free radicals, which contribute to cancer cell growth and other disease processes. The Cornell research indicates that apple antioxidant phytonutrients significantly reduce the growth of at least two types of cancer cells.

"In this research, we have shown the importance of these phytochemicals to human health," said study lead author, Dr. Rui Hai Liu, in a June 21 Cornell News Service press release. "Scientists are interested in isolating single components, such as vitamin C, vitamin E or beta carotene, to see if they exhibit antioxidant or anticancer benefits," continued Dr. Liu. "It turns out that none of those works alone to reduce cancer. It's the combination of flavonoids and polyphenols," classes of antioxidant phytonutrients found in apples, "doing the work."

Dave Gress, general manager of Fruit Growers Marketing Association, a cooperative of 40 wholesale Ohio apple growers, reports that apples are ripening an average of one week earlier than last year. Steve Hirsch, fruit grower in the Chillicothe area concurred that the apple crop is running a little early this year. "In addition to apples, we have a full peach crop," Hirsch added.

According to the National Cancer Institute, most scientists agree that eating five more servings of fruits and vegetables a day may help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and other diet-related illnesses. People wanting to locate a farm market where they can "size up" and purchase Ohio apples, peaches and other fruits and vegetables may contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture by calling 1-800-IM-PROUD or e-mailing wwwagri@ohio.gov to request a free Ohio Farmers Market Directory.