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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Producing apples in the early years is the main goal for high density orchards, but there are factors to consider to achieve good returns for fruit from young trees:
  • Fruit from young trees may be more prone to storage disorders.  Consider directing this fruit to fall markets to avoid long storage life.
  • Bitter pit is often an issue in apples from young trees. Bitter pit is a symptom of calcium deficiency in the fruit, which is increased when high fertility is used to promote tree growth. As well, bitter pit is more problematic on larger fruit and/or with lighter croploads.
  • Fruit from young trees are usually larger, and often a bit softer. Direct these fruit to markets that accept these qualities to maximize returns.
  • Sunburn may be more prevalent because fruit is highly exposed to the sun. Consider using shading products like Surround or Pureshade to reduce sunburn.
  • Cultivars that are prone to russet may have more damage, but this problem seems to decrease as the tree matures.  Fruit quality of cultivars like Nicola, Aurora Golden Gala and Ambrosia improve drastically as the trees mature.
  • Some growers choose not to use ReTain on smaller crops due to the expense. However, non-ReTain treated fruit tend to have more stem-bowl cracking and greasiness.  Non-ReTained fruit must be picked at the proper maturity to minimize these problems.

When to harvest? Fruit maturity can be unpredictable from young trees.  There are several factors that cause this:

  • Young trees often produce a higher percentage of fruit from year-old wood rather than spurs. This may affect time of flowering, and as a result, individual fruit may mature at different times.
  • For new cultivars (eg. Salish), the ideal maturity index may not yet be known so it is important to use several maturity tests.  
  • Fruit maturity varies with the season in both mature and young trees. The order of maturity between cultivars is not predictable, so frequent monitoring is needed.

Be ready with iodine solution, pressure testers, colour charts (especially for Ambrosia) and refractometers, and monitor fruit maturity frequently as harvest approaches.