GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — With the start of school and September just around the corner, Michiganders are beginning to think about a tasty fall tradition: apple season.
“When the leaves are starting to change and the mornings are getting nice and cool,” said Ed Robinette, a fourth-generation grower with 56 years of experience at the popular Robinette’s Orchard, Apple Haus & Winery just north of Grand Rapids.
He’s seen good years and bad when it comes to the harvest. This year is another in a string of pretty good years.
Michigan produces the third most apples in the nation, just behind New York and way behind apple giant Washington state.
The Michigan Apple Committee predicts a statewide harvest of 25.25 million bushels, about the same as the harvest in 2018 and just slightly lower than Michigan’s record crop of 28 million bushels in 2016.
Unlike other crops that suffered from an extremely wet spring, apples thrived.
“The apple tree took all the water that nature gave it this spring and grew. It was beautiful. The trees were happy,” Robinette said.
But he added that weather has caused a minor delay in the harvest.
“Apples are about five days behind what we would consider normal because of the cool, wet spring that we had,” Robinette said.
He said apple fans will find some new things to try:
“Dandee Red, Zestar, Sansa, some that you’ve probably never heard of, really good eating apples,” he said.
But somethings remain the same.
“So Honeycrisp is still the No. 1. It’s got that incredible crunch and snap when you bite it and juice that runs down your chin, so it’s hard to beat,” Robinette said.
There have been improvements made to the Honeycrisp in terms of color and crunch.
“Somebody discovered a tree that had mutated, changed and so that’s what we’re always on the lookout for is the next best thing,” Robinette said.
You can find out more about West Michigan apples on the Kent Harvest Trails Facebook page.