Southeast Michigan apple maturity report – September 10, 2014

McIntosh maturity has jumped ahead of Gala in the past week, with a light first picking of Honeycrisp starting in the next few days at many farms.

General apple harvest comments

Apple harvest is quickly gearing up for the fall. Most apple growers are picking early maturing strains of Gala and McIntosh, and a few are looking to begin with a light Honeycrisp picking later this week. In evaluating the maturity data from the first two weeks of the Michigan State University Extension Apple Maturity Program, it appears that McIntosh is ripening quicker than Gala. Some growers experienced fruit drop of McIntosh and Honeycrisp as a result of strong, straight-line winds that quickly moved across the region last Friday evening, Sept. 5.

Most growers have had plenty of moisture this season and thus fruit size is excellent. Fruit color seems to have improved slightly in the last week. Overall there is a wider range of maturity within blocks this season compared to most seasons. Harvest labor is short at most farms as we begin to ramp up apple harvest.

Apple maturity in southeast Michigan for apples harvested Sept. 8, 2014

Variety

 Fruits with ethylene over 0.2 ppm (range)

Color (range)

Firmness lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix

Gala

80 (60-100)

70 (34-99)

17.2 (16.3-17.8)

2.4 (1.3-4.4)

11.1

McIntosh

30 (0-80)

63 (46-81)

14.6 (13.4-15.8)

4.0 (3.1-4.9)

11.3

Honeycrisp

75 (40-100)

59 (53-63)

15.0 (14.6-15.7)

2.8 (1.3-3.7)

12.1

Early Fuji

 0 (0-0)

64 (45-85)

15.0 (13.6-17.5)

4.8 (3.0-8.0)

10.8

Empire

20 (0-40)

60 (50-70)

14.7 (14.1-15.2)

2.0 (1.7-2.3)

 9.9

Cortland

 0 (0-0)

63 (56-70)

16.1 (15.6-16.6)

1.3 (1.0-1.5)

10.4

Individual variety results

Gala were sampled for the second week of the fall harvest season. Growers are harvesting early maturing Gala strains, but overall they are still not eating well, so growers are moving on to McIntosh to allow Gala a few more days to ripen more fully. Color in many blocks is also lacking, averaging 70 percent. This has not changed from last week’s report.

Gala fruit size is excellent this season. I have not seen any stem end cracking yet this season. The fruit remains firm, averaging 17.2 pounds, but there is a wide range of firmness depending on the strain. The starch index averaged 2.4. One caveat to add is that some Gala blocks have a great deal of variability of starch readings, ranging from 1 to 8 in the same block.

McIntosh was sampled for the second week of the season and has moved along quickly toward maturity. Most blocks had low percentages of fruit with internal ethylene levels greater than 0.2 parts per million (ppm), averaging 30 percent. The color has generally improved in McIntosh over the last week; it was averaging 40 percent last week and improved to 63 percent this week.

The firmness has dropped 1.7 pounds in the past week to 14.6 pounds this week. The starch removal has moved from 3.0 last week to 4.0 this week; recall that McIntosh need to be closer to 5 to be considered mature, higher than any other variety. McIntosh are “picking easy” this week, so growers need to get them harvested before stems loosen up.

Honeycrisp were sampled for the second week of the season. Honeycrisp always have a wide range of fruit maturity, and this season it is typical. Fruit on the outside of the tree are beginning to color well and eat a little better than fruit on the inside of the tree, which is green as grass.

Fruit with internal ethylene levels greater than 0.2 ppm is up to 75 percent this week – last week 50 percent of the fruit were at this level. The color of the most mature fruit sampled from the outside of the tree is up to 59 percent, with firmness down 1.6 pounds to 15.0 pounds. The starch removal averaged 2.1 last week and is 2.8 this week. The brix has improved to 12.1 percent this week. Honeycrisp are ready for a very light first picking at this time.

Early Fiji was sampled for the first week of the season and is ready for first picking for fruit that will be sold quickly. None of the fruit sampled are producing internal ethylene levels greater than 0.2 ppm, which is typical for this variety. Fruit color is good, averaging 64 percent and pressure is averaging 15.0 pounds. The starch removal averaged 4.8 with a brix of 10.8 percent.

Empire was sampled for the first week of the season and appears to be a long way off at this time. Just 20 percent of the fruit sampled are producing internal ethylene levels greater than 0.2 ppm. Fruit color is good, averaging 60 percent and pressure is averaging 14.7 pounds. The starch removal averaged 2.0 with a brix very low at 9.9 percent.

Cortland was sampled for the first week of the season and is a long way from being ready to begin harvest. None of the fruit sampled are producing internal ethylene levels greater than 0.2 ppm. Fruit color is good, averaging 63 percent and pressure is averaging 16.1 pounds. The starch removal averaged a low 1.3 with a brix of 10.4 percent.

Predicted apple harvest dates

Each year, we publish a predicted harvest date for three varieties for many locations across the state. This year’s dates can be seen at “Predicted 2014 apple harvest dates,” published July 17. The table below lists the bloom and harvest dates for the Michigan cities Deerfield and Romeo. You can adjust your predicted harvest dates based on your bloom dates. The harvest dates are based on a long established formula using the bloom date and temperatures for 30 days post-bloom. These dates are an estimate, and from the data I generated from this week’s samples, I believe these harvest days are going to be fairly close to the actual dates for a variety nearing maturity.

Predicted harvest dates for East Michigan

Full bloom date

 Predicted Harvest dates

Station

McIntosh

Jons

Reds

McIntosh

Jons

Reds

Deerfield

5/12

5/14

5/16

9/12

9/30

10/7

Romeo

5/15

5/17

5/17

9/14

10/1

10/7

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

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