Northwest Michigan apple maturity report – Oct. 2, 2019

Apple harvest is in full swing in northwest Michigan.

General apple harvest comments

Growers are in harvest mode across the region, and many varieties are reaching maturity at the same time. The rainy weather has posed some challenges for harvest, but many growers are moving ahead and trying to get the fruit off the trees. The weather forecast for the remainder of the week is predicting rain. However, the longer term forecast for next week looks like sun and moderate temperatures, which will be good conditions for harvest.

Growers are continuing to harvest Honeycrisp; some have been waiting for better color, but color has improved a lot compared to last week. Honeycrisp are eating very well, and fruit seems particularly juicy this season. Honeycrisp fruit also seem like they are very good size. Some of the schools where we deliver fruit have commented that they have been cutting up the apples because they are big.

Gala harvest is also underway. Sometimes we struggle with fruit size on Gala with our sandy soils, but size is good this season. Additionally, Gala has ripened before McIntosh this year, and McIntosh have been slower to mature compared to past years. Fortunately, we have not observed a lot of McIntosh pushing off. McIntosh have been harder to find this season as many growers are taking out this variety.

Ida Red are still immature but have good color. Jonagolds have high brix this season and are approaching maturity, but growers are too busy with other varieties and Jonagolds will likely be hanging for a while.

Overall, fruit is eating excellent this season. Flavor is terrific, and fruit seems particularly juicy. Growers are just trying to get the fruit off of the trees with challenging weather conditions. Hopefully the rain will move out and orchards will dry out for the remainder of apple harvest. We have been moving through apple harvest at a good pace.

Apple maturity in northwest Michigan for apples collected on Oct. 1, 2019

Variety

Color % (range)

Firmness lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Honeycrisp

Harvest underway

McIntosh

Harvest underway

Gala

86.3 (78.0 - 94.5)

21.4 (21.2 - 21.6)

2.1 (1.9 - 2.2)

12.0 (11.6- 12.4)

Jonagold

74.8 (70.0 - 79.5)

18.4 (18.1 - 18.7)

4.4 (4.4)

14.7 (13.9 - 15.4)

Ida Red

71

19.6

1.5

12.8

Individual variety results

Gala

Two of the four Gala sites that we usually sample have been harvested. In the remaining two sites, color has continued to improve and firmness is holding with most samples testing at more than 20 pounds of pressure. Starch indices are increasing and these apples will be ready to pick for storage in the coming days. We have been harvesting Gala (Buckeye) at the station and although the apples were waxy this week, they have beautiful color and taste great.

Gala maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

Color % (range)

Firmness lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 10

64.0 (30.0 - 95.0)

22.3 (19.0 - 23.0)

1.0 (1.0 - 1.0)

9.8 (8.5 - 11.5)

Sept. 17

78.0 (54.0 - 95.0)

21.2 (16.8 - 23.0)

1.1 (1.0 - 1.7)

11.6 (10.0 - 14.5)

Sept. 24

79.3 (40.0-100)

21.2 (18.5 - 23)

1.7 (1 -6)

12.5 (10 -13.5)

Oct. 1

86.3 (78.0 - 94.5)

21.4 (21.2 - 21.6)

2.05 (1.9 - 2.2)

12 (11.6 - 12.4)

Jonagold

This is the first week of testing Jonagold, and we sampled two blocks. The apples have a good sweet-tart flavor, but are still starchy despite the relatively higher index readings. Pressures are approaching the recommended firmness for long-term storage. Jonagold are coloring up and should continue to improve.

Jonagold maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

Color % (range)

Firmness lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Oct. 1

74.8 (70 - 79.5)

18.4 (18.1 - 18.7)

4.4 (4.4)

14.7 (13.9 - 15.4)

Idared

This is also the first week of testing for Idared, and we sampled one block. These apples are still immature, but moving in the right direction.

Idared maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

Color % (range)

Firmness lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Oct. 1

71

19.6

1.5

12.8

 

Suggested firmness and starch index levels for long-term and shorter-term controlled atmosphere (CA) storage by variety.

Variety

Firmness (pounds)*

Starch Index*

Short CA

Mid-CA

Long CA

Mature

Over mature

McIntosh

14

15

16

5

7

Gala

16

17

18

3

6

Honeycrisp

15

16

17

3.5

7

Empire

14

15

16

3.5

6

Early Fuji

16

17

18

3

7

Jonagold

15

16

17

3.5

5.5

Jonathan

14

15

16

3.5

5.5

Golden Delicious

15

16

17

3

6.5

Red Delicious

16

17

18

2.5

6

Idared

14

15

16

3.5

6

Fuji

16

17

18

3

7

Rome

15

16

18

3

5.5

*Firmness is measured with a mechanical 11-millimeter wide probe inserted into the pared flesh of a fruit to a distance of 8 millimeters. Starch index is measured on equatorial cross section of an apple stained with iodine solution and rated using the Cornell University starch-iodine index chart for apples on a 1-8 scale (Predicting Harvest Date Window for Apples by Blanpied and Silsbey, Cornell Extension Bulletin 221.)

 

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