The 2018 Michigan apple harvest is well-underway, with quantity and quality of most varieties looking positive. The Gala harvest is complete in most areas, with Honeycrisp at about the halfway point and early Fuji’s are just starting to get picked. Excess moisture from seasonal rainfall has resulted in cracking in some of the Gala crop. Overall, quality and size are excellent.
“The quality and flavor of this year’s apples are outstanding,” said Dawn Drake, general manager of the Michigan Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Association (MACMA). “Demand from the fresh and processing markets is excellent and growers are working feverishly to satisfy market needs. Because Michigan’s crop is above average and all apple producing regions have good fruit, prices are somewhat lower than last year. Farm markets should have an excellent year and be able to satisfy all their customer needs.”
According to the Michigan Apple Committee (MAC), Michigan is the nation’s third largest producer of apples, with more than 11.3 million apple trees covering 35,500 acres on 825 family-run farms in Michigan. Many of those utilize seasonal labor to harvest their crop.
“Overall, there appears to be an adequate supply of labor for apple harvest this year,” said Bob Boehm, general manager of Great Lakes Ag Labor Services, LLC (GLALS). “Labor is vital for apple growers as mechanical harvesting equipment is not available for apples. Every apple is being picked by hand, making seasonal labor critical for timely harvest and to ensure high quality apples for consumers.”
According to MAC, over one billion pounds of apples of sixteen varieties are expected to be harvested this year. Much of that fruit will be sold at farm markets, allowing growers to connect directly with consumers.
“Through market research, we have determined that our primary target audience is women between the ages of 25 and 54,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee. “This audience is the number one user of our two most popular social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram. This year, we’ll be tapping into some of the special features of those platforms. In addition, we are working with more online influencers, to help us spread the word about fresh, quality Michigan-grown apples.”
You can find a Michigan apple farm market near you by visiting this interactive link at michiganapples.com.