Michigan apple harvest going strong
The Michigan apple harvest is underway, according to Scott Swindeman, president of Applewood Fresh Growers LLC, a grower-shipper based in Sparta, MI.
On Sept. 11, Swindeman tells FreshFruitPortal.com that harvest is “hot and heavy” at his home orchard, Applewood Orchards, Inc., in Deerfield, MI, which is in the southeast corner of the state. To the west in Sparta and other growing areas, the harvest is still ramping up.
“The crop is good. The quality is excellent. Here we go again!” with another apple season. This is 65-year-old Swindeman’s 47th apple season. “I’m pretty pleased so far.”
On Aug. 18 Michigan’s official 2023 apple crop estimate of 32 million bushels was announced. According to the USDA, Michigan harvested a record 32.38 million bushels of apples in 2022. The average annual crop size is approximately 24 million bushels.
Swindeman’s estimate is that the 2023 crop will be about 90 percent of last year’s record harvest, which is still a very large crop. He is concerned because Washington State’s crop is bouncing back from a low-volume 2022 with a record crop, and the Eastern apple crop is also supposed to be abundant this fall. “It will be a challenge. Every year is different, with no exception.”
He is concerned about ongoing labor shortages and increasing production costs exceeding returns on apples.
Swindeman said that Rave, a managed variety, has already completed harvest. Three-fourths of the SweeTango crop is off the trees and Premier Honeycrisp, an early Honeycrisp strain, is finished with harvest. Galas and regular Honeycrisp harvest is just getting started.
Swindeman said Michigan finished shipping its 2002 storage crop in the first week of September, “which was good because it kept our retailers in apple for a long time.”
USDA indicates there are more than 14.9 million apple trees in commercial production, covering 34,500 acres on 775 family-run farms in Michigan.