Northwest Michigan apple maturity report – September 14, 2016

Gingergold harvest is underway in northwest Michigan. Later varieties are coloring up with nighttime temperatures starting to drop compared with earlier nighttime temperatures in September.

General apple harvest comments

The apple harvest in northwest Michigan is still on the early side. Gingergold harvest is underway. In orchards that had hail damage from July 8, growers are picking early varieties for the juice market. Most apples are still eating green, and the recent rains may have impacted brix levels. However, color is improving with cooler nighttime temperatures, and we anticipate brix levels to rise as apples approach maturity.

We have not heard of issues of labor shortages thus far this season. These data have been collected from orchards just north and south of Suttons Bay, Michigan.

Apple maturity in northwest Michigan for apples harvested Sept. 13

Variety

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Gala

85 (77-89)

20.6 (20.3-20.8)

1.6 (1.5-1.8)

11.2

McIntosh

69 (54-91)

15.9 (14.2-17.6)

2.2 (1.0-3.0)

11.6

Honeycrisp

67 (56-79)

16.4 (15.6-17.4)

2.4 (1.6-3.4)

12.6

Empire

73 (NA)

19.6 (NA)

2.5 (NA)

10.5

Spartan

72 (NA)

17.5 (NA)

3.5 (NA)

9.7

Individual variety results

Gala was sampled for the first time this season, and the firmness is still high on all samples – up over 20. Starch index is still low, and brix levels are also still on the low side. Color is developing nicely in Gala, and by the time Gala harvest is underway, color is anticipated to be excellent.

Gala 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 13

85 (77-89)

20.6 (20.3-20.8)

1.6 (1.5-1.8)

11.2

McIntosh are still eating very green, and the brix levels are an average of just over 11.5. McIntosh have that characteristic fall apple flavor, but we have a ways to go before they reach maturity. Firmness is lower in this variety, but lower firmness readings are anticipated for McIntosh. The older strains of this variety could use improvements in color.

McIntosh 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 13

69 (54-91)

15.9 (14.2-17.6)

2.2 (1.0-3.0)

11.6

Honeycrisp maturity is a bit more variable than the other varieties we tested this week. We have samples of this variety where the brix is an average of 14.2 while the majority of samples are in the mid-11 to 12.5 range. Starch index readings are also variable, and the starch readings do not seem to precisely correlate with how the fruit eat; fruit eats more on the green side than some of the index readings are indicating. Firmness is holding, and color is improving. We anticipate high quality Honeycrisp, and bitter pit levels appear to be low in blocks with a good crop load.

Honeycrisp 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 13

67 (56-79)

16.4 (15.6-17.4)

2.4 (1.6-3.4)

12.6

One sample of Empire was tested this week. Firmness in this sample looks good, and the fruit appears to be coloring up nicely. Brix are still reading quite low, and the starch index is beginning to trend toward more mature fruit.

Empire 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 13

73 (NA)

19.6 (NA)

2.5 (NA)

10.5

One sample of the variety Spartan was tested, and results can be seen in the table below.

Spartan 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 13

72 (NA)

17.5 (NA)

3.5 (NA)

9.7

Looking for more? View Michigan State University Extension’s Apple Maturity page for regional reports throughout the state and additional resources.

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