Harvesting Apples – Apple Tree Yield
Before harvesting apples, we have to “thin” the trees. Apple tree thinning is crucial in order to have a good yield and normalize the production throughout the years (minimize the phenomenon of Biennial Bearing). Apple tree thinning takes place from late spring to summer (April to July). The whole idea is to remove the underdeveloped, damaged fruits and those fruits invaded by pests, so as to leave enough valuable nutrients for the fewer healthy and normal size fruits that we want to harvest a couple of months later. Sometimes, the choice may be harder, as we may have to remove healthy and good looking fruits, if there are no damaged or unhealthy ones. Apart from hand thinning, apple tree growers in US apply chemical thinning applications in order to adjust yield and profitability.
In most areas of US, apple trees are harvested from late summer to fall (August to October). As it happens in all fruit trees, knowing when exactly to harvest requires years of experience and constant “trial and error” effort. Alternatively, commercial apple growers can regularly check the sugar levels of apples in order to determine the optimum harvest time.
Unfortunately, when it comes to harvesting apples, we only have a time window of 8-12 days in most cases. On the contrary, when harvesting citrus, we have a window of 2 months, and leaving the citrus fruits in the tree does not result in the product quality deterioration. Apples are harvested only by hand and they are very sensitive to bruising. Sorting must take place immediately after harvesting, because damaged apples release ethylene gas more quickly and this can hurt the rest fruits.
A very good yield for a well-cared apple tree grown in a backyard is about 80-150 fruits per season. However, when apple trees are cultivated commercially in apple orchards, with the effect of sophisticated pollination, fertilization, irrigation and plant protection methods, they can produce from 400 to over 800 (and in some cases over 1200) fruits in a season.
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12.) Apple Tree Harvest & Yields
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