Apple season brings variety

On the Farm

Red delicious, golden delicious, Jonagold, Winesap, Granny Smith, Gala, Braeburn, Fuji, Honeycrisp … apple season is so delicious!

Do you want apples for baking, freezing, sauce or eating? Or maybe all of the above? You can find apples that fulfill your checklist and many more.

Did you know that 2,500 apple varieties are grown in the United States? And 7,500 apple varieties are grown throughout the world. About 100 varieties are grown commercially.

There are 7,500 apple growers in the U.S. today farming 322,000 acres.

One of my favorite apples is a relatively new apple, Honeycrisp. This apple was the result of a cross between Macoun and Honeygold apples.

This process began in 1960 at the University of Minnesota apple breeding program. Honeycrisp apples were patented in 1988 and released in 1991.

Wow — it took 31 years for this apple to reach consumers.

Apples are grown in all 50 states but are commercially grown in 36 states. The top-producing states are Washington, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California and Virginia. Combined, they produce about 80 percent of the U.S. apple supply.

Ohio ranks ninth in apple production in the United States.

The U.S. Apple Association’s early estimates were that more than 264 million bushels of apples would be produced in the United States this year. Of this, 61 percent are eaten as fresh fruit, and 39 percent are processed into apple products like juice, cider and sauce.

A bushel of apples typically weighs between 42 and 48 pounds. If you are the average American, you eat a bushel of apples and processed apples (45.2 pounds) every year.

Because apple season usually runs from August through November, consumers and apple farmers have to rely on science to provide apples all year around. We can walk into the grocery store on any given day and buy an apple. It might not be the one I really want because not all apples store well.

Apple storage has come a long way from barrels and fruit cellars. There are some practices that have been replaced with better science-based practices that lengthen the life of apples. The newest research is with controlled-atmosphere storage. Oxygen, temperature, humidity, nitrogen and carbon dioxide are carefully regulated, slowing the ripening process.

I’ve seen the videos online; maybe you have too. The consumer is using hot water to remove the wax that was applied to an apple. This was done to protect and slow the ripening process of the apple, a necessary step to provide apples to consumers year-round. U.S. consumers buy with their eyes and price — it has to look good and they want it cheap. U.S. apple farmers are trying to do this.

I hope you take advantage of the current apple season and visit one of the local orchards. There are a lot of kinds of apples. Try something new. New apples taste the best when eaten closest to harvest, but I am thankful for the food choices that we have in this country, and an apple in May, June or July next year will still taste good and be good for me!

Mary Smallsreed is a member of Trumbull County Farm Bureau.