Sunday, September 6, 2015

When to Harvest Apples, 2015

‘So when do you harvest your apples?’  That’s how the conversation started as a neighbor peered over the fence at the slowly ripening fruit.  ­­My Happy Acres offers over a dozen different apple varieties.  Some apples are good for pies.  Some are good for sauce.   Some are delicious to eat right off the tree.  So when do you harvest?
Just as there are different apples for different purposes, there are different harvest times for different apples.  As much as we wish that we could firmly control the growth and development of our trees, there are so many variables that influence fruit development.  We can get a rough estimate based on variety, but still need to check and monitor before picking the fruits.  Rain, heat, humidity, insects, even bird activity can shift harvest dates.  So when do you harvest?  Let me share a tip and a trick with you: ignore the calendar, check your fruit.
Although some folks will tell you that when the apples are red, you should pick the fruit.  Well, what do you do when you have a variety that doesn’t normally turn red?  Jonagold, Fuji, and even some Courtland frequently have fruit that doesn’t turn red but appears green at harvest time. An easy way to determine if your apples are ready to harvest is to select a sample apple from the tree in question and cut it in half to expose the endocarp or seed area of the apple.  
Sansa on left is ready to pick; Cortland on right needs another week or two.
Take a close look at the pips or seeds.  If they are white, light tan, or have white tips, the apples are not ready for harvest.  Our Sansa trees are ready to be picked.  First developed by an international team, the Sansa is a cross between the Gala and Arkane apples giving it a sweet flavor and fine texture. 
These little trees are not particularly attractive, nor very productive. What they lack in looks, they make up for flavor.  Unlike other apples, the Sansa is slow to turn brown when sliced.  This makes the Sansa an excellent choice for salads or slices.