Michigan apple harvest reports – September 6, 2012

Apple drop in Michigan is prevalent in 2012.

General comments

Harvest of McIntosh and Gala is taking place in most areas of the state this week. Growers are in no hurry to get over blocks as the crops are so light. However, we have noticed a significant amount of drop in most apple cultivars this year – more than typical and surprising given the light crop situation. We have observed this in just about every variety picked so far and it’s most likely attributed to the higher overall level of ethylene in apples this year due to frost cracking, high temperatures, drought, etc. The take-home message is that while you might have more time this year to let apples hang for color or size, be aware of this tendency for drop for 2012. Either apply stop drop materials to hanging fruits or harvest quickly.

Southwest Michigan - Bill Shane, Michigan State University Extension

Local businesses are actively searching for sources of apples to satisfy needs of local farm stands and farmers markets. Harvest of Honeycrisp is continuing for the second week—eating quality and demand have been very good. Empire, Jonagold and Jonathan should be tested now. Typically, Jonathan and Jonagold mature about four days after Honeycrisp, and Golden Delicious mature eight days after Honeycrisp.

Tests of Golden Delicious picked on September 4 at the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center showed average flesh firmness of 19.4 lb firmness, starch removal index of 1.2 and brix of 15.2, with green skin color and dark pits. General target for Golden Delicious apples for local sales is a starch index of 3 and firmness of 17 lbs or less firmness. Typically, Goldens picked for processing as slices for pies and cobbler are harvested at a less mature state.

Southeast Michigan - Bob Tritten, Michigan State University Extension

Apple harvest is very different this year for the few growers with a crop. Varieties are not ripening in the usual order of ripening, as some varieties have jumped ahead of others in terms of maturity. Apple harvest is very slow this season because the crop is so early, light and maturity from tree-to-tree and even limb-to-limb so spread out.

Growers are finishing picking full rate Retain-treated Gala, Honeycrisp are being spot-picked for the second or third time, Empire are being harvested, and growers are looking at the maturity of Jonathan and Jonagold (some earlier strains are ready). Golden Delicious is still eating on the green side.

West Central Michigan - Phil Schwallier and Amy Irish-Brown, Michigan State University Extension

Growers are finishing up with Honeycrisp and Gala this week. Harvest is going very slowly as no one seems to be in a big hurry (or do they need to be). There has been a high amount of fruit drop in Paula Reds, McIntosh, Gala and Honeycrisp so far this year, which suggests this might be a trend for the season. Fruit size is small in most cases. Flavor and sugar levels are excellent for Gala and Honeycrisp this week. Golden Delicious will be the next variety harvested, perhaps next week.

 Go to the 2012 MSU apple maturity program and reports.