Michigan Apple News

posted on August 21, 2017

Michigan’s unique climate and geography help give apples superior taste

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s climate and geography provide great conditions for hard working apple growers to produce quality, flavorful fruit. With an average annual harvest of nearly 24 million bushels, Michigan is the third largest apple producing state in the United States. While Michigan is third in quantity, many believe the flavor of Michigan-grown apples is the best in the world.

“Michigan’s climate provides a growing season of mostly cool nights, warm sunny days and plenty of moisture –ideal factors in producing a flavorful crop of apples,” said Amy Irish-Brown, district fruit educator with Michigan State University Extension.

Sunshine provides the energy trees need to produce flavorful, sweet fruit. Moderate night temperatures help regulate fruit growth, and the right balance of moisture helps trees produce good-sized apples. The Fruit Ridge, the area along the shores of Lake Michigan, stretching from Grand Rapids north to Hart, has ideal nutrient-rich soil in which apple trees thrive.

“Apple trees are constantly working to distribute moisture and nutrients throughout. Branches, leaves and fruit all need energy for the current crop and the crops to come,” said Irish-Brown. “That makes the soil in which the orchards are planted of utmost importance. Nutrients, pH levels and moisture levels are monitored to keep the trees in top shape.”

Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, which buffer some of the severe weather coming across the Midwest. The Lakes also help in bringing precipitation to apple growing areas. 

Topography is also a factor in apple production. The landscape of a growing region plays a role in the health and success of the orchard. Lower areas can experience colder temperatures, while higher areas could be more exposed to the elements, but tend to set better fruit. Apple growers take great care in planning the layout of the orchards with this consideration.

“Of course, we believe the apple grower is the most important factor in producing flavorful, high-quality apples,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee. “Growers are part scientist and part artist – it is a unique and complex balance, making decisions based on weather, timing and potential threats such as disease and pests. They rely on research, experience and their ‘gut’ on a daily basis as they produce their crop. We are lucky in Michigan to have so many elements in our favor contributing to the best tasting apples in the world!” 

The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded nonprofit organization devoted to marketing, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption in Michigan and around the world. For more information, visit www.MichiganApples.com. 

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