Last fall’s apple crop was the best ever on our apple trees. We had more than we could ever use, even after giving away several bushels to our friends and our church. I have two Harrelson reds and a Honeycrisp apple tree at my home, which is a 3 acre hobby farm. I’ve had them for about 10-12 years and we’ve had some good yields and bad yields. Unfortunately, for the first few years, the bad years far outnumbered the good ones. The Honeycrisp in particular seem to be susceptible to all sorts of damage. I’ve had to learn the hard way how to get best crop that I can from them, and I’m still not sure I got it right, but the yields are improving!
I’m not an apple expert, but this is what I did to get a nice crop of apples:
- Apple maggots have always been my biggest problem. For the first time ever, I trapped Apple Maggot flies to monitor the population and keep the numbers down. I put up sticky traps to trap the apple maggots and also to monitor their occurence on a weekly basis. Each trap is a 4-5” red plastic hollow ball that you put a sticky glue on and hang on the apple tree. I put 3 traps in each tree. Evidently the flies think it is an apple, and they try to lay their eggs on it and get stuck. In this way I could check their weekly activity and relative population to help me determine how often I should spray them. In addition to monitoring the flies, the traps did help to keep the of maggot fly population down a bit.
- I waited until the first week of July to start spraying, (when the maggot flies begin to hatch). A number of different sprays work, as long as the directions are followed for timing and amounts to use. Make sure the spray is registered for fruit trees, and are effective against several types of pests. Make sure you DO NOT spray the trees when they are flowering! It will reduce the bee population which is so vital to pollinating the flowers. (You’ve probably heard about the decline in bee population anyway). A combination spray of insecticide and fungicide also improve your crop, although all I used was insecticide.
- I stored the apples in our downstairs refrigerator. The inside of any refrigerator is very low in humidity, so I d ouble bagged the apples in plain plastic grocery bags. I added just I bit of water to each bag and tied the top shut and made sure the temp was just above freezing. I removed any apples that had bruises or cuts, so they wouldn’t cause the other apples in the bag to ripen too fast and possibly rot. In mid March, I still some Harrelson Reds in our downstairs refrigerator and they were as good and crisp as the day I picked them! Once they start to loose their crispness, they make great apple crisp!