East Michigan apple maturity report – Oct. 13, 2021

Apple harvest is wrapping up quickly in east Michigan.

General apple harvest comments

I have been visiting eight apple growers each Monday and Tuesday for the summer and fall doing insect trapping and scouting work for the Department of Entomology at Michigan State University. For the last seven weeks, I have also been doing a survey of apple maturity at these same orchards. My general comments and individual variety suggestions follow.

  • Idared, Northern Spy, Fuji and Rome harvest is underway or winding down quickly.
  • Most growers have been waiting to harvest Northern Spy and Fuji for better color development.
  • Growers will be quickly moving on to harvesting Braeburn and Russets.
  • A few apple growers have wrapped up harvest in the past few days. Most report they will complete harvest of fresh market apples later this week.
  • The only unharvested fruit left in pick-your-own blocks is expected to be picked in the remaining three weekends in October.
  • Apple harvest has moved along quickly this fall, at least a week to 10 days ahead of normal.
  • Apple yields have been extremely variable across east Michigan this fall. Most growers are reporting overall yields to be 30 to 50% of normal. However, the range has been quite variable between 5 to 70% of a normal crop.
  • Fruit size has been very good this season, helping bins to fill more quickly.
  • Fruit maturity has been variable this season. Growers are finding some fruit to be soft when harvested with other fruit on the same tree being immature. Bruising of this soft fruit has been common to find as fruit is being harvested.
  • As Gala, Honeycrisp and other varieties are being graded after being in short term storage, growers are finding a good amount of bruised fruit, lenticle spot, black rot and other storage disorders.
  • Due to the short crop, harvest labor has been adequate.
  • Brown marmorated stink bug trap catch exploded last week, and this week trap counts have continued to quickly grow. With apple harvest so close to wrapping up, feeding damage from brown marmorated stink bugs should not be a major problem. Growers are finding some limited early feeding damage from brown marmorated stink bugs to fruit as it is being graded.
  • This will be my final apple harvest repot for the 2021 season.

Individual variety comments

Idared are ready for harvest. Fruit size, color and quality are very good.

Northern Spy harvest continues but fruit color is generally poor. Some growers are waiting for cooler weather to continue harvest, hoping for better fruit color. Looking at the long-range weather forecast, I am not sure if we will see much of a change in fruit color.

Rome are ready to harvest. Fruit color and size are good.

Fuji are ready for harvest but like Northern Spy, fruit color remains poor. Some growers are waiting for cooler weather for better color to develop.

EverCrisp are either mature or are quickly nearing maturity. A good amount of watercore is being seen in some blocks. If this is the case, I would move quickly to harvest this variety.

Braeburn are nearing maturity and need another few more days to mature.

Winesap need a few more days to mature.

On a personal note

I appreciate the work of my former colleagues, Bill Shane, Amy Irish-Brown and Anna Wallis, for them sharing their apple maturity testing results with “my growers” in east Michigan this fall. I have been working to help provide them with information on apple maturity this fall, and Michigan State University Extension has rehired me for a limited time to help with this effort. However, I was called for and selected for jury duty just after Labor Day, and the “four-day trial” ended the week before last. So, I couldn’t devote the time that was needed each week to provide you with apple harvest information as I have been accustomed to.

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