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Recently, Tastee Apple’s apple buyer, Steve Barker, and new VP of Production, Chad Hackenbracht, visited southwest Michigan and the area north of Grand Rapids, MI known as the “Fruit Ridge” to assess this year’s projected apple harvest. The projected harvest has a mixed result due to temperatures that soared high in March followed by freezing temps in early April. According to Steve the overall yield will be an average year.
The first stop was to visit The Michigan Agricultural Commodity Marketing Association (MACMA). They are a co-op representing the MI farm bureau. The area was hit hard by low temperatures that severely damaged the apple crop in this region. Typically the earliest shipments of apples come from here but the numbers with be smaller, so the difference will be made up from the Fruit Ridge. Located in this area are many orchards including 3 they visited: Jack Brown Orchard, Belle Harvest and the River Ridge Orchard. Out of this region, the growers collectively estimate that this year’s crop yield will be a normal year, unlike a high yield in 2016. In numbers, that equates to a normal yield of 21-22 million bushels verses 30 million bushels last year. A 5 year average is 25 million bushels.
Thanks to Steve and Chad for taking firsthand look at this year’s apple harvest from our Michigan growers so we can best be prepared to begin our production of caramel apples in late August. In part 2 of this story, the reason the Fruit Ridge was able to keep their crop from freezing. You’ll be surprised at the methodologies that work most effectively. Stay tuned.