Aug 6, 2018
2018 apple harvest in Eastern states: Where are we now?

Apple bloom in 2018 was later than bloom in 2017. With a later bloom and a cool rainy season, we’re all wondering when this year’s apple crop will be ready to pick.

Rainy weather has given everyone headaches with plant diseases, but it is helping by improving red color development. This will be particularly valuable, as some supermarket buyers are asking growers for a greater percentage of red color on quality fruit.

In Maryland and Virginia, growers have begun – or expect to begin soon – picking Premier Honeycrisp. Premier Honeycrisp harvest has also begun in the warmer, southern districts in Washington State. Red color development and tree-ripening on Premier Honeycrisp apples began during the last week in July. The red-colored Premier Honeycrisp apples we tasted in Pennsylvania this week were still slightly acidic, but developing varietal flavor.

In late July we started maturity sampling in Adams County, focusing on Premier Honeycrisp grown at 1200 feet elevation. Fruit were sampled in the same commercial orchard and block we monitored during the past two years. Fruits were spot-picked for size and color. While there was not yet adequate red color at this site, it was easy to see that tree ripening on Premier Honeycrisp is beginning.

The following table shows data from our pre-harvest samples taken in the same orchard block in 2016, 2017 and again this year. As you can see, Premier Honeycrisp harvest maturity data are similar for all three years.

Premier Honeycrisp Harvest Maturity Data 2016–2018

Date Diameter (inches) Red Color (%) Ground Color Firmness (pounds) Starch Pattern (1 – 8) Soluble Solids (°Brix)
25-Jul-2018 2.8 9 Light Green 18.9 1.4 10.9
31-Jul-2018 2.9 19 Yellowish Green 16.4 2.8 10.9
2-Aug-2017 2.9 15 Yellowish Green 16.3 11
4-Aug-2016 2.9 32 Yellowish Green 16.9 2.4 12.2

Finding any good tree-ripening apple variety during peach season is always a pleasant surprise. With a delayed bloom, many of us were unsure about the start of the 2018 harvest. The data comparing Premier Honeycrisp maturity in 2016, 2017, and 2018 at the same site suggest that growers need to be ready to pick soon.

Photo at top: Growers with Premier Honeycrisp plantings should monitor fruit maturity and be ready to pick this early variety. Photo: Chris Walsh/University of Maryland

– Tara Baugher, Penn State University Extension

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