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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            Contact: Denise Donohue 
August 24, 2010                                                                                         (800) 456-2753

 

Apple harvest off to an early start
Growers picking apples when they normally pick peaches

(DeWitt, Mich.) – The summer heat is resulting in one of the earliest Michigan Apple harvests in recent memory.

Many growers across the Great Lake State began picking apples the second week of August, about two weeks ahead of the normal harvest schedule, according to the Michigan Apple Committee (MAC), the apple industry’s organization that educates and promotes Michigan Apples.    

“We are happy to get to the market early this year with large, sweet apples,” said Denise Donohue, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee (MAC).  “An ‘early’ spring and hot temperatures this summer spurred apple development and enhanced fruit size.”

Harvest officially launched August 10 with the Paula Red, an apple named and discovered around 1960 by a Michigan grower in Sparta Township.  Just a few days later, the Ginger Gold was ready for picking.  By the first week of September, the Michigan Apple harvest will be in full swing with the ever-popular Gala and McIntosh readily available, followed closely by the headline-grabbing Michigan Honeycrisp.  

According to MAC, shoppers can expect a full selection of good-size, flavorful apples at farm markets and grocery stores. 

“Because apples trees are deeply rooted, they are able to survive long periods without rain even in the hot, dry weather we’ve experienced in August,” said Donohue.   “The heat increases sugar levels in the fruit, resulting in extra juicy, sweet apples.”

Based on feedback from growers and shippers, Michigan is projected to produce about three-quarters of an average crop this fall.  Production is down slightly due to a frost in early May which resulted in varied damage depending on the location, elevation and varieties planted. 

Typically Michigan harvests about 19 million bushels of apple annually.  Production can fluctuate from one year to the next depending on the weather.  In fact, last year Michigan produced a near-record crop of more than 28.5 million bushels. 

“Because we had so many apples last year, many of our shippers were packing apples all the way

through the summer, right up to the start of the fall harvest.”

Because so many new high-density orchards are being planted in Michigan, industry leaders expect production numbers to steadily increase in the near future.

“Michigan has planted so many new high-density apple trees that thousands are just now coming into their best bearing years,” said Donohue.  “Our production numbers will rise, even though total acreage may decrease slightly in future years because of the smaller, more closely planted trees that are the rule in the modern orchard.  Smaller trees bear at an earlier age and are easier to harvest and care for.”

According to the latest estimate, Michigan is projected to produce 15.5 million bushels of apples, or more than 650 million pounds of apples this year. 

Michigan is the third-largest apple producer in the United States.  Apples continue to be the largest and most valuable fruit crop of Michigan, and are estimated to generate $800 million of economic impact per year for the state.

MAC is a grower-funded, nonprofit organization devoted to promotion, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption by consumers in Michigan and around the world. 

 

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