Northwest Michigan apple maturity report – September 21, 2016

Honeycrisp, Gala and McIntosh have developed quickly in the last week; growers should be ready to pick Honeycrisp and Gala as soon as they can.

General apple harvest comments

Michigan’s northwest region is entering the full throes of apple harvest this week, and there are many trucks on the road hauling apples. Several growers that were hit by hail are stripping the trees, and the apples are heading to the juice market. Many varieties have moved along quickly in the past week, particularly Honeycrisp and Gala.

We had fairly warm daytime temperatures in the past week, but we did hit the 50-degree mark in the evening. Color on all apple varieties tested looks excellent, and size of the fruit is also very good. We have not heard of labor issues so far this season.

Apple maturity in northwest Michigan for apples harvested Sept. 19

Variety

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Gala

93 (85-99)

18.9 (17.5-19.7)

3.1 (2.9-3.4)

11.9

McIntosh

83 (62-100)

15.6 (13.6-17.0)

3.1 (1.4-5.1)

11.3

Honeycrisp

78 (60-89)

16.6 (15.0-17.2)

3.7 (1.4-5.5)

13.0

Empire

85 (NA)

18.5 (NA)

3.3 (NA)

11.6

Spartan

94 (NA)

17.0 (NA)

1.6 (NA)

10.3

Cortland

61 (NA)

14.8 (NA)

1.6 (NA)

11.5

Macoun

61 (NA)

16.9 (NA)

1.7 (NA)

12.3

Individual variety results

Gala was sampled for the second time this season, and the firmness remains high on all samples. Starch index rose from 1 into the high 2’s to 3 this week. Brix levels are increasing, but the overall average for our three samples is just under 12. Galas are eating better this week compared to last week. Color is developing nicely in Gala, and we are in the mid-90 percent red color from our three samples.

Gala 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Date of sample

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

Sept. 20

93 (85-99)

18.9 (17.5-19.7)

3.1 (2.9-3.4)

11.9

Some McIntosh blocks have been harvested in the past week, and the samples we evaluated have a starch index ranging from 1.4-5.1, so the starch indexes seem quite variable. The McIntosh we tested are still quite firm for this variety. Brix levels are still in the 11 range. We are still waiting on this variety to color up.

McIntosh 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Date of sample

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

Sept. 20

83 (62-100)

15.6 (13.6-17.0)

3.1 (1.4-5.1)

11.3

Honeycrisp maturity jumped tremendously over this past week. We had starch index readings in the 1’s last week, and we are in the mature to over-mature range this week. We are surprised how quickly this variety has moved along. Fruit is eating much better, and the fruit in most blocks is quite large. Brix readings are quite good, and the brix readings for our samples are close to above 13. Color is improving, but some blocks are still quite green. Growers will have to balance trying to obtain color with maturity moving along quickly. We have seen more bitter pit this week, and this problem is worse in blocks with a light crop.

Honeycrisp 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Date of sample

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

Sept. 20

78 (60-89)

16.6 (15.0-17.2)

3.7 (1.4-5.5)

13.0

We tested only one sample of Empire this week. Firmness in this single sample is still in the 17 pound range, and the fruit has better color this week than last week. Brix are higher, and the starch index in our sample was 3.3

Empire 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Date of sample

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 13

73 (NA)

19.6 (NA)

1.4 (NA)

10.5

Sept. 20

85 (NA)

18.5 (NA)

3.3 (NA)

11.6

One sample of the variety Spartan was tested this week. Color has improved on this variety since last week. These apples have held firmness and the starch index is also similar to last week. We found a slight increase in Brix.

Spartan 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Date of sample

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 13

72 (NA)

17.5 (NA)

1.3 (NA)

9.7

Sept. 20

94 (NA)

17.0 (NA)

1.6 (NA)

10.3

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

Cortland 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Date of sample

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 20

61 (NA)

14.8 (NA)

1.6 (NA)

11.5

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

Macoun 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Date of sample

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 20

61 (NA)

16.9 (NA)

1.7 (NA)

12.3

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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