Southeast Michigan apple maturity report – September 14, 2016

Many Gala, McIntosh and Early Fuji blocks have been color picked as well as first picking of Honeycrisp. Growers are going back to finish Gala and McIntosh. Harvest labor is in short supply at most fruit farms.

General apple harvest comments

With the early and long bloom in apples this spring and the continued heat of this summer, apple growers are finding that apple maturity is a ahead of the predicted harvest dates and that there is much less uniformity of maturity than in most years. This mixed maturity was the case for McIntosh and Gala and is holding true for Honeycrisp. The harvest window for early maturing apple varieties (Gala, McIntosh, Honeycrisp and Early Fuji) was a few days ahead of the predicted harvest dates. However, based on data from this week, Empire will be maturing at least a week behind the predicted harvest day of today, Sept. 14.

The normal and 2016 peak harvest dates for apple varieties in east Michigan table continues to be included at the end of this report. I encourage apple growers to spend some time in the orchard today to evaluate the maturity of your apple varieties to make sure you are on top of apple harvest.

Based on data from apples that were collected on Monday, Sept. 12, and analyzed yesterday, Gala, McIntosh and Early Fuji are a few days past their peak of maturity and the earliest maturing Honeycrisp fruit are over-mature. More details on each of these varieties and others follow in the individual variety results section.

Fruit color is generally better this week compared to last week. There are still some sunburn issues in well-exposed Gala fruit. Harvest labor is short at most farms, most growers report they need an additional four to six people on their harvest crew.

This is the second apple harvest report for the season; I have collected and analyzed apples for the last three weeks. This week, nine apple varieties were sampled and tested for maturity, with Jonathan, Jonagold, Cortland and Golden Delicious added to the mix.

Black rot on fruit remains a problem at several farms, much worse in many blocks than the last few seasons. Bitter pit is in many Honeycrisp blocks.

Apple maturity in east Michigan for apples harvested Sept. 12

Variety

% Fruits with ethylene over 0.2 ppm (range)

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Gala

90 (90-90)

90 (85-95)

18.9 (16.0-25.8)

5.6 (3.0-8.0)

12.0

McIntosh

50 (30-70)

59 (48-69)

16.2 (14.6-17.6)

5.6 (5.2-6.0)

11.1

Honeycrisp

93 (80-100)

67 (63-72)

15.9 (15.3-16.8)

6.7 (6.0-7.8)

12.4

Early Fuji

70 (70-70)

68(15-90)

14.2 (12.8-17.0)

7.1 (6.0-8.0)

12.2

Empire

3 (0-10)

76 (62-86)

19.4 (19.1-19.5)

1.8 (1.0-2.4)

10.9

Jonathan

43 (0-80)

90 (78-98)

18.6 (17.6-19.2)

3.7 (1.3-4.9)

11.9

Jonagold

0 (0-0)

23 (16-29)

17.5 (16.7-18.3)

3.9 (1.6-6.1)

11.6

 

Cortland

5 (0-10)

68 (50-86)

17.3 (17.0-17.6)

3.8 (1.2-6.3)

12.1

Golden Delicious

0 (0-0)

5 (0-10)

18.1 916.4-19.7)

2.8 (1.8-3.8)

11.5

Individual variety results

Gala was sampled for the third week of the season. The predicted harvest date for Gala was Sept. 5, but based on last week’s data I could see it was maturing earlier than this date. This week’s data shows Gala is mature and some strains/blocks are testing to be over-mature. Growers spot-picked Gala last week and are finishing up harvest this week. Gala likes a hot August, and in these conditions tends to mature early. A few of the fruit also have a “greasy” feel, indicating over-mature fruit as well.

Fruit with internal ethylene levels greater than 0.2 parts per million (ppm) tested at 90 percent this week. Fruit are still firm at 18.9 pounds and the starch index has moved from 4.4 last week to 5.6 this week. The brix is now at 12 percent, up from 11.1 percent last week.

Gala 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

% Fruits with ethylene over 0.2 ppm (range)

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Aug. 29

28 (0-90)

71 (58-80)

20.2 (17.6-21.6)

2.4 (1.2-5.0)

10.9

Sept. 5

100 (100-100)

62 (49-76)

22.2 (17.9-24.5)

4.4 (2.4-7.6)

11.1

Sept. 12

90 (90-90)

90 (85-95)

18.9 (16.0-25.8)

5.6 (3.0-8.0)

12.0

McIntosh was sampled for the third week of the season, with a predicted harvest date of Sept. 7, but based on last week’s data I could see it was maturing earlier than this date. As in the case of Gala, early maturing strains and sites tested this week are testing mature. Many growers did a color picking over the last week to get the earliest maturing fruit off the tree and growers are going back this week to finish harvest. Most McIntosh blocks are eating very well. There is some fruit drop in McIntosh, but most of the fruit has been pushed off the limb from growth rather than dropped on its own accord.

The percentage of fruit with internal ethylene levels greater than 0.2 ppm rose from 33 percent last week to 50 percent this week. Fruit color improved to 59 percent this week and the starch index has risen from 4.2 last week to 5.6 this week. The brix is slightly better at 11.1 percent.

McIntosh 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

% Fruits with ethylene over 0.2 ppm (range)

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Aug. 29

8 (0-30)

50 (40-64)

16.1(14.2-18.0)

3.1(2.2-4.5)

11.1

Sept. 5

33 (0-70)

48 (42-51)

18.3 (16.4-21.1)

4.2 (3.3-6.0)

10.9

Sept. 12

50 (30-70)

59 (48-69)

16.2 (14.6-17.6)

5.6 (5.2-6.0)

11.1

Honeycrisp was sampled for the third week of the season. Recall that when we take a sample of any variety, we take the most mature fruit. So in the case of Honeycrisp, this is the few fruit per tree that have a bright red color (what I call “stop light” color) with the background color changing to yellow. The predicted harvest date for Honeycrisp was Sept. 11. Based on this and last week’s data, it has continued to mature very quickly. The maturity of this earliest maturing fruit is actually ahead of Gala and McIntosh. Growers have color picked Honeycrisp in the last week and are waiting for the remaining fruit to mature a bit more before going back for the second of four pickings. One caveat to add concerning Honeycrisp is that the flavor is not normal and the fruit is very “juicy or watery.” This could be due to the dry spring and summer and then above-average rainfall since mid-August; there is more water in Honeycrisp than normal.

The percentage of fruit with internal ethylene levels greater than 0.2 ppm has risen from 85 percent last week to 93 percent this week. Fruit firmness has dropped from 18.6 pounds last week to 15.9 pounds this week. Fruit color has improved to 67 percent. The starch index jumped from 5.3 last week to 6.7 this week, with a few blocks testing over-mature.

Honeycrisp 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

% Fruits with ethylene over 0.2 ppm (range)

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Aug. 29

5 (0-10)

45 (40-49)

19.3 (18.9-20.1)

2.0 (1.5-2.5)

11.3

Sept. 5

85 (50-100)

46 (33-54)

18.6 (17.5-19.8)

5.3 (3.0-7.1)

12.2

Sept. 12

93 (80-100)

67 (63-72)

15.9 (15.3-16.8)

6.7 (6.0-7.8)

12.4

Early Fuji was sampled for the second week of the season and with a limited number of blocks sampled because most have been harvested in the last few days. The blocks tested this week are testing as over-mature. The percentage of fruit with internal ethylene levels greater than 0.2 ppm is 70 percent, with an average starch index jumping from 3.8 last week to 7.1 this week. The predicted harvest date for Early Fuji was Sept. 10 for east Michigan, so the date was very close to being accurate.

Early Fuji 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

% Fruits with ethylene over 0.2 ppm (range)

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 5

50 (50-50)

31(30-31)

17.7 (17.118.3)

3.8 (3.0-4.6)

11.0

Sept. 12

70 (70-70)

68(15-90)

14.2 (12.8-17.0)

7.1 (6.0-8.0)

12.2

Empire was sampled for the second week of the season. The percentage of fruit with internal ethylene levels greater than 0.2 ppm is still low at 3 percent, with fruit color improving to 76 percent. The pressure is firm at 19.4 pounds and the starch index the same at 1.8. They are still eating green. The predicted harvest date for Empire is today, Sept. 14, but I think they are at least a week away from being ready to harvest.

Empire 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

% Fruits with ethylene over 0.2 ppm (range)

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 5

7 (0-20)

53 (39-62)

21.0 (19.8-22.7)

1.8 (1.6-2.0)

10

Sept. 12

3 (0-10)

76 (62-86)

19.4 (19.1-19.5)

1.8 (1.0-2.4)

10.9

Jonathan was sampled for the first week of the season, mainly to get an early read on its maturity. The percentage of fruit with internal ethylene levels greater than 0.2 ppm is 43 percent, with very good fruit color at 90 percent. The pressure is firm at 18.6 pounds and average starch index at 3.7. However, two of the three blocks tested are significantly ahead of the other with starch indexes of 4.8 and 4.9. They are eating green and are not ready for harvest. I need to get another week’s worth of data to give me a better picture of Jonathan maturity. At this time they appear to be ahead of Empire. The predicted harvest date for Jonathon is Sept. 24.

Jonathan 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

% Fruits with ethylene over 0.2 ppm (range)

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 5

43 (0-80)

90 (78-98)

18.6 (17.6-19.2)

3.7 (1.3-4.9)

11.9

Jonagold was sampled for the first week of the season, mainly to get an early read on its maturity. The predicted harvest date for Jonagold is Sept. 24. The percentage of fruit with internal ethylene levels greater than 0.2 ppm is 0 percent or none, with fruit color at 23 percent. The pressure is firm at 17.5 pounds and starch index averaging 3.9. However, there is a big spread of maturity in the two Jonagold blocks I sampled, with one block having a starch index of 1.6 and the other at 6.1. Both blocks are eating green, but I need to get another week’s worth of data to give me a better picture of Jonagold maturity. At this time they appear to be ahead of Empire.

Jonagold 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

% Fruits with ethylene over 0.2 ppm (range)

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 5

0 (0-0)

23 (16-29)

17.5 (16.7-18.3)

3.9 (1.6-6.1)

11.6

 

Cortland was sampled for the first week of the season, mainly to get an early read on its maturity. The predicted harvest date for Cortland is Sept. 24. The percentage of fruit with internal ethylene levels greater than 0.2 ppm is 5 percent, with fruit color good at 68 percent. The pressure is firm at 17.3 pounds and starch index at 3.8. However, as with Jonagold, there is a big spread of maturity in the two Cortland blocks I sampled, with one block having a starch index of 1.2 and the other at 6.3. I will need to do more checking on the spread of maturity, but I suspect one of the sampled blocks might be a Redcort and not a Cortland. Both blocks are eating green, but I need to get another week’s worth of data to give me a better picture of Cortland maturity. At this time they appear to be ahead of Empire.

Cortland 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

% Fruits with ethylene over 0.2 ppm (range)

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 5

5 (0-10)

68 (50-86)

17.3 (17.0-17.6)

3.8 (1.2-6.3)

12.1

Golden Delicious was sampled for the first week of the season, mainly to get an early read on its maturity. The predicted harvest date for Golden Delicious is Sept. 30. The percentage of fruit with internal ethylene levels greater than 0.2 ppm is 0 percent or none, with fruit color at 5 percent. The pressure is firm at 18.1 pounds and starch index at 2.8. They are eating green.

Golden Delicious 2016 maturity sampling for the harvest season

Sample date

% Fruits with ethylene over 0.2 ppm (range)

Color % (range)

Firmness Lbs. (range)

Starch (range)

Brix %

Sept. 5

0 (0-0)

5 (0-10)

18.1 916.4-19.7)

2.8 (1.8-3.8)

11.5

Predicted apple harvest dates

Each year we publish predicted harvest dates for three varieties for many locations across the state. This year’s “Predicted 2016 apple harvest dates” were published July 11. The table below has been expanded to include more apple varieties and it lists only one date for the entire region, which is hard to do. The information in the “Predicted 2016 apple harvest dates” article lists the bloom and harvest dates for Deerfield and Romeo, Michigan. You can adjust your predicted harvest dates based on your bloom dates or make adjustments to this expanded list based on the typical harvest dates at your farm. These predicted 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. I believe our actual harvest dates may be a few days ahead of these predicted harvest dates for most varieties. Keep a close eye on the weekly apple harvest updates for possible revisions of these dates.

Normal and 2016 peak harvest dates for apple varieties in east Michigan

Variety

Normal date

2016 predicted date

Paula Red

8/22/16

8/17/16

Gingergold

8/23/16

8/18/16

Gala

9/8/16

9/5/16

McIntosh

9/13/16

9/7/16

Early Fuji

9/14/16

9/10/16

Honeycrisp

9/16/16

9/11/16

Empire

9/20/16

9/14/16

Jonathan

9/23/16

9/24/16

Jonagold

9/23/16

9/24/16

Cortland

9/25/16

9/24/16

Golden Delicious

9/29/16

9/30/16

Red Delicious

10/1/16

10/1/16

Ida Red

10/6/16

10/6/16

Rome

10/11/16

10/11/16

Fuji

10/22/16

10/22/16

Braeburn

10/23/16

10/23/16

Goldrush

10/31/16

10/31/16

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

The East Michigan Apple Harvest Report is produced by Bob Tritten, district fruit educator in Flint, Michigan. Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); Office phone: 810-244-8555; Cell: 810-516-3800; and Fax: 810-341- 1729. Special thanks to the four orchards that allow me to harvest fruit for analysis every Monday during the apple harvest season: Spicer Orchards in Hartland, Erwin Orchards in South Lyon, Westview Orchards in Romeo and Hy’s Cider Mill in Romeo. Thanks to so many other orchardists that I collect fruit samples from to include their varieties on more of a random basis. Lastly, thanks to the Post-Harvest Lab in the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University that provides the quick and very accurate analysis of so many apple samples in the fall. Randy Beaudry and his students do a fantastic job and are a valuable part of our Apple Maturity Team.

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