Most Michigan growers kicked off their harvests with paula reds and ginger golds in mid-August.
Sparta, Mich.-based Riveridge Produce Marketing Inc. began packing paula reds, its first variety of the season, on Aug. 18, with ginger golds following the week of Aug. 25 and mcintoshes, Honeycrisps and galas expected the second week of September.
Riveridge, which grows its own apples as well as markets those grown by others, is increasing production on its own farms this season, a trend mirrored throughout the state, said Don Armock, the company’s president.
Some land that used to be planted in row crops, for instance, is now apple orchards.
In addition, land is being refurbished, Armock said, with new higher-density trees replacing old low-density ones. That means more bushels per acre, which should mean even more record Michigan crops in the future.
“There’s a lot coming on now,” Armock said. “Last year was a record, but it still wasn’t a full crop. The potential in Michigan continues to grow.”
Sparta-based Jack Brown Produce Inc. began harvesting paula reds and ginger golds the week of Aug. 18 and packing them on Aug. 22, said John Schaefer, the company’s president.
Galas, mcintoshes and golden delicious were expected to follow about Sept. 11 and Honeycrisps in mid-September, Schaefer said.
“We’re a couple days behind normal — but what is normal anymore?”
Hillsdale, Mich.-based Glei’s Inc. began picking paula reds Aug. 12, said Damon Glei, a partner in the company.
“We’re a few days late this year,” Glei said. “Last year we started picking Aug. 6-8.”
Still, the late start could have been even later.
“Our bloom was about two weeks late, but we caught up.”
Next out of the gate for Glei’s were ginger golds, with mcintosh, gala and other varieties expected in early September.
The 2014 crop won’t set any volume records, but quality should be excellent, Glei said.
“It’s not yielding out nearly as well as last year. It’s not a huge crop, but size is good on everything. The paula reds look very good.”
Barry Winkel, general manager of Greg Orchards & Produce Inc., Benton Harbor, Mich., said growers in southwest Michigan began picking a few paula reds and ginger golds the week of Aug. 18. Galas and other varieties were expected to follow Sept. 12-15.
Belding, Mich.-based All Fresh GPS began shipping paula reds and ginger golds in mid-August, just two or three days later than normal, said Bruce Heeren, partner in the company.
All Fresh expected to begin shipping galas Sept. 8-10, mcintoshes a few days after that, Honeycrisps in mid-September and red delicious and jonagolds Oct. 1, Heeren said.
Many Michigan growers began picking ginger golds the week of Aug. 18, said Diane Smith, executive director of the Lansing-based Michigan Apple Committee.
At the beginning of the deal, growers were excited based on what they’ve seen so far, Smith said.
“Everything coming off the tree is looking great. It could be the cleanest crop we’ve ever had, and the size is phenomenal.”
Galas that growers were inspecting in orchards at the end of August looked so good that they could have been picked then, Smith said — even though they still had two or three weeks of growth left.