East Michigan apple maturity report – Oct. 6, 2021

Apple harvest in east Michigan is moving along quickly.

General apple harvest comments

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

  • Apple harvest is moving along quickly, at least a week or more ahead of normal.
  • Yield have been extremely variable across east Michigan, ranging from 5-70% of a normal crop.
  • Golden Delicious and Red Delicious harvest is underway or winding down quickly.
  • Crispen or Mutsu harvest has started, mostly spot picking.
  • Growers will be moving on to harvesting Ambrosia, Idared, Northern Spy, Fuji and waiting on Braeburn.
  • Some growers report they may be wrapping up harvest by the end of next week.
  • 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 and other fruit on the same tree being immature. Bruising of this soft fruit has been common to find as fruit is being harvested.
  • Due to the short crop, harvest labor has been adequate.
  • As Gala, Honeycrisp 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.
  • Brown marmorated stink bug trap catch has exploited this week, but we are so close to harvest that their feeding damage should not be a major problem. Growers are finding some limited feeding damage to fruit as it is being graded.

Individual variety comments

Golden Delicious harvest is moving quickly. Fruit size is good. Yields are lower than normal, but the larger than normal fruit size is helping to fill bins quickly. Fruit quality is variable. Sooty blotch and fly speck damage is common.

Red Delicious harvest is also moving along quickly. Fruit quality is generally better than most other varieties and better flavor than most seasons.

Idared are mostly ready for harvest and some harvest has begun. Fruit size and quality is very good.

Ambrosia are a new variety for most growers in the region. They are eating well and are ready for harvest.

Northern Spy harvest has started at a few farms, but only a light first spot picking, as color of most of the interior fruit are poorly colored.

Crispen or Mutsu harvest is just getting started. Fruit in the inside of the tree is still immature.

Rome are still on the green or immature side and may need another week to mature well.

Fuji are ready for harvest at most farms, but the fruit color is poor. Growers are waiting for cooler weather for better color to develop

EverCrisp are still on the immature side and need another week or so to mature.

Braeburn are still immature and need another 10 days to mature.

Winesap are still immature and need another 10 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 just last week. 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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