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Michigan apple growers expect a clean crop

The Michigan apple industry awaits its official crop estimate, which will be released at the USApple meeting Aug. 23. But, based on conversations with Michigan apple growers, Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, expects an average-sized crop. “What that means is different to everybody," she said.Michigan-apples

“The crop is looking really great. The weather had been ideal, with good rain and great sunshine. We’re in line for a nice, clean, beautiful crop.”

Over the last five years, Michigan has averaged producing about 24 million bushels of apples. Michigan’s apple production numbers are misleading because the state once relied heavily on producing apples for processing. For more than a decade, those outdated varieties and old orchards have been systematically torn out and replaced by modern, tasty fresh-market varieties, which benefit from modern, productive production techniques. Many of those orchards are still very much in the maturation process, so the state’s apple production numbers will be increasing, with a crop of a much greater value that past years.

Don Armock, the owner of Riveridge Produce Marketing Inc., said harvest dates for the 2019 Michigan apple industry in general are six to eight days later than normal. But he noted that some varieties may not be that late.

Armock noted that in 2019 many kinds of crops across the northern tier in the U.S. are running late on harvest.

Riveridge this year will begin harvesting Gala Sept. 10-14 but won’t have volume until Sept. 16-20. “We’ve been that late before but not for a while,” he said.

Riveridge harvests HoneyCrisp and then holds those apples four or five days before packing. The first HoneyCrisp from Riveridge is expected to be shipped Sept. 20-23.

Armock said apple growers in southwest Michigan have a heavier apple crop than was expected in the earlier development of the phases of the 2019 crop. That corner of the state produces less than 10 percent of Michigan’s total tonnage.

Chuck Yow, the director of sales Michigan Fresh Marketing LLC and BelleHarvest Sales Inc., said that sales effort will begin in the last week of August with Paulared and Ginger Gold varieties. Galas will begin in early September.