By David Whitney, Produce Manager, Co-op Owner
Fall is officially here! As the days get cooler and the trees began to show the glorious colors of their fall foliage we can also count on a fresh crop of delicious locally grown apples. Michigan apple lovers will be overjoyed with the apple crop this fall.
As the apple harvest is getting underway, the overall crop is expected to be near record levels. The Michigan Apple Committee announced a crop estimate of a whopping 29.5 million bushels. All those apples equate to 1.239 billion pounds of apples. That estimate would have growers harvesting 10 million more bushels than in the 2021 season. Michigan apple growers produced 15.6 million bushels last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Ideal weather conditions in spring and summer, dedicated growers and stored energy from 2021’s smaller crop has resulted in a large, high-quality apple crop for Michigan,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee in a news release.
Michigan’s apple crop typically averages about 24 million bushels, from nearly 15 million apple trees across 34,500 acres on 775 family-run farms, according to the apple committee. That average puts Michigan as the nation’s third-largest producer, behind (No. 1) Washington and (No. 2) New York. Apples are big deal in Michigan. The annual crop is the state’s largest cash-value fruit crop.
Michigan apple facts:
- The Michigan apples industry’s annual economic impact is estimated at $700-900 million
- Michigan ranks 3rd in the nation in apple production
- There are more than 11.3 million apple trees in commercial production, covering 35,500 acres on 825 family-run farms
- Michigan harvests about 1.05 billion pounds of apples per year
- 55 percent of all Michigan apples are processed into other products
- Michigan slices more apples than any other state for use in pies and fresh-cut slices and also processes apples into applesauce, fresh and shelf-stable apple cider, and apple juice
- Apples are naturally free from fat, cholesterol and sodium
- They are an excellent source of fiber
- Apples are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, which help protect the body from harmful free radicals
- Apples are a good source of B-complex vitamins and trace amounts of minerals