Northwest Michigan apple maturity report – Oct. 16, 2019

Apple harvest continues to move along, and all varieties are fair game for picking. The region reported isolated first frost events this week.

Growers are moving along in apple harvest and picking a variety of cultivars at this time; some people are close to finishing while others are still waiting on apples to mature. There seems to be some variability in harvest maturity across different blocks in the different northwest counties. We have heard some growers in Antrim and Benzie counties are on their second picking of Honeycrisp while growers in Leelanau County are finished; some growers plan to finish all apples by the end of this week.

Apple quality remains good for most varieties. Some Jonagold blocks are not coloring up as growers would like, but brix levels for this variety are high. Some Jonagold blocks have been slow to ripen, and starch removal indices remain quite low compared to the brix measurements.

Growers on their second or third picking of Honeycrisp are pleased with color; we have heard many growers leave the fruit on the insides of the tree in other years, but with the good color on those inner fruits, they are taking the time to pick them this season. There seems to be a demand for apples, and almost all apples seem to have a home whether they be for the fresh or the processed market.

This fall’s weather has been hit or miss for harvest. We had a run of wet weather at the end of last week with rain on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 11-13. Michigan State University Enviroweather rainfall amounts, respectively, for the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center were 0.38 inch, 0.2 inch and 0.28 inch. Some of last weekend’s wet weather brought soft, frozen, sleety precipitation to the area. Monday, Oct. 14, was dry, but the rain started again Tuesday and continued Wednesday. The remainder of the week looks mostly dry with a slight chance of rain on Saturday, Oct. 19, and possible rain on Monday, Oct. 21.

We did have some isolated frost events across the region on the morning of Oct. 15. The Bear Lake Enviroweather station did report overnight lows of 30.2 degrees Fahrenheit on the morning of Oct. 15, and frost was evident in low areas around the research station.

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