Below is the apple maturity report for the Winchester/Fredrick county area. We measured fruit firmness (lb), fruit color, total soluble solids (Brix), and starch conversion rate (1-8 index) for 11 apple cultivars grown in the AHS Jr. AREC’s and we will keep sending similar reports throughout the harvest season to help you decide the optimal harvest date for your cultivated blocks. More varieties will be added to or dropped from the table below as we move through the harvest season. We have assessed fruit firmness, Brix, and starch index according to the methods we described previously in another blog post (https://blogs.ext.vt.edu/tree-fruit-horticulture/2012/08/23/harvest-maturity-resources/). We used a DA meter to assess fruit coloration. The DA device measures the chlorophyll content in the fruit, just below the skin. As the fruit ripens, chlorophyll degrades, and DA readings decline accordingly. Starch index, fruit firmness and, ‘to some degree’, Brix values, are used either alone or in combination to determine the harvest date for most commercial apple varieties. In Table 2, you will find the estimated firmness and starch index values at which apples should be harvested for Controlled atmospheres (CA) storage or fresh consumption. If you don’t see your variety in the list, you can generally pick your fruits at starch index (3-5), firmness (> 16 lb), and DA reading (0.60) for CA storage. But if the crop is intended for fresh market, then wait until the starch index (5.5-7), firmness (13-16 lb), DA reading (0.35) and Brix (12-14%). Again, there are varietal differences, so it’s always recommended to use more than one maturity index to determine the optimal harvest time.
Sherif M. Sherif, Assistant Professor of Horticulture at Virginia Tech, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, AHS Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center
595 Laurel Grove Road, Winchester, VA 22602
Tel. 540-232-6035, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org