The basics of apple harvesting

Fall is a busy time for apple growers. Ripening times vary from year to year depending on the weather. If apples have coddling moth damage, they will drop up to two weeks before the crop is ripe.

The best and most time-tested method of judging when to pick fruit is the taste method. When enough starch has been converted to sugar and the flavor is developed, the fruit is ready to eat. Fruit continues to ripen in cold storage, so pick fruit before it is ripe if you want to store it.

As fruit ripens, it changes color. The base color, or ground color, is the color underneath the red striping or blush of peaches, apples, pears and cherries. In most fruits, the fruit is ripening when the ground color turns green to yellow. The surface color may develop before the fruit is actually mature.

If storing fruit, cool it as soon as possible after picking. The sooner you can remove the heat from freshly picked fruit, the longer it will keep.

Be gentle when you handle fruit for storage. Bruises and wounds allow pathogens to infect the fruit, and disease will spread to adjacent fruits once it gets established.

You’ll be able to find many varieties of Kentucky apples at farmers markets or on many Kentucky farms that provide fall agritourism activities From Lodi, Red Delicious, and Winesap to Gala, Jonathan, Honeycrisp, Cortland and more, Kentucky growers offer a wide selection to consumers.

For more information about apples, contact the Bell County Extension office.

Stacy White is the Bell County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Educational programs of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin. Source: John Strang, UK horticulture extension specialist