It would seem every other crop year hits a new high or low, with the last two years appearing as extreme as an ECG of a heart attack.
In 2010 the Spring started quickly with blossom in the third/ fourth week of April. A May freeze threatened to destroy the crop but the damage turned out to be nominal. By Harvest, 2010 apples had a long, sunny season and the dry Autumn kept rots to a minimum. I give 2010 an "A".
By contrast, 2011 was a rainy, rainy year with mild temperatures. Constant humidity and morning fogs created a scary situation for vigorous trees. Shoot blight and rot were prevalent. Some grape growers lost their entire crop. By Harvest flooding from two hurricanes added to soil saturation and the apples were visibly larger then normal (similar to 2009.) That's good for farmers selling eating apples by the pound, but that's bad for cider, where we like small, dense, fully ripened apples. I give 2011 a "D".
The recent warm winter made matters worse. Cellar temps speed the fermentation and it was impossible to naturally control residual sweetness. Now, at Spring bottling, I am choosing to blend vintages so that the water-thin 2011's have more body. I would never add sugar, but back-sweetening seems desirable when your back's to the wall. Luckily I have enough 2010 to round-out the bottle.
2012 is off to a similar start to 2010, but with an even earlier blossom predicted. We are all holding our breath, the traditional frost-free date isn't until May 14. And it's been dry- that's never good for Spring. Still, the conditions are in place for an excellent 2012. Perhaps 2012's will sit along side 2010, and 2007 in the basement (that is, if we haven't drank it all.) Cheers.