Apple Maturity Update for North Central New Jersey
For the second year in a row, apple trees bloomed one to two weeks early. Cooler than normal
temperatures prevailed throughout the month of May and into early June, delaying the accumulation of
heat units, and allowing apple maturity to settle back into traditional harvest windows. Apple harvest
dates are now, for the most part, concurring with historical harvest dates.
While maturity dates are running close to normal this year, the record setting drought and extreme heat
this summer is causing premature drop on drop sensitive cultivars. McIntosh across New England,
Pennsylvania and Northern NJ are extremely dropy this season and are most affected.
Growers need to be aware of the cultivars, which they are growing that are prone to drop in order to
make the proper harvest management decisions. Consider the use of stop drop materials.
Over the past week, strains of McIntosh, Gala and Golden Delicious were tested for maturity from five
orchards in Central New Jersey (Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Hunterdon Counties).
McIntosh tested at 4.06 on the starch index chart with a sugar content of 11% from a sample taken in
Mercer County this past Thursday (8/26). McIntosh samples taken from the Pittstown area on Monday
(8/30) show significantly less mature readings from those we saw in Mercer on Thursday. This
indicates that more northern areas of the state can expect their harvest window to be 5-7 days behind
Mercer County. Macs that are showing heavy premature drop, and have not been treated with a stop-
drop, may require the growers' attention. An orchard site in Monmouth County that was treated 6 days
prior to sampling with NAA at 10 PPM is showing advanced maturity
Background color has historically been one of the best indicators of maturity for cultivars such as
Gala. Unfortunately, background color appears to be unusually washed out this year, so a keen eye
needs to be kept on this variety, and other maturity indicators may play an even more pertinent role in
determining the optimum harvest of Gala strains this year. Multiple pickings must be used on Gala to
get consistent fruit quality and size.
There is variability within Gala strains and between orchard sites. Observation and sampling at a site in
Middlesex County on Thursday (8/26) indicated Royal Gala was within a week of optimum harvest for
storage. Observations in Pittstown, Hunterdon Co. indicates that harvest on the earliest strains of Gala
(Lydia's Red, Fulford) for storage is not expected until the middle of the week of September 6th. Gala
strains traditionally come into maturity around Labor Day for Northern New Jersey growers. Gala