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Horticulture Questions and Answers

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When can I pick my apples?

It isn't always easy to determine when to harvest apples. If you know what to look for you can harvest apples at their peak. Apples picked at the right time keep longer in storage.

Pick apples before they fully mature. You can gauge apple maturity several ways. These signs include: changes in fruit skin color, fruit crispness, and loss of a starchy taste.

For reliable signs look at the change in the apple's background color. When most apples mature, this background color changes from a leaf green to a lighter shade of green and eventually to a yellowish color. You can pick most apple cultivars when the first signs of yellowing appear.

You can also tell if your apples are ready by how easily the detach from the tree. Mature apples separate easily from the spur or twig. Grasp the fruit and lift up with a slight twisting motion. Avoid pulling down on apples when you pick them as this removes the fruit spur along with the fruit. Spurs are very short branches that bear fruit every year. If you remove too many over time you'll reduce apple production. The appropriate harvest dates for some common, recommended varieties are: Redfree - early August; Prima - mid-August; Priscilla and Jonafree - early September and Golden Delicious - mid-September.