Apple Harvest and Frost

I had a few trees which weren’t quite ready to pick last week, just waiting for them to ripen up a bit more, when our rain/snow that wasn’t supposed to get much below 29-30F is now forecast to go to 20F tonight. So I have been shaking snow off branches and picking apples like mad today. And had a few observations and questions for the more experienced apple growers here.

  1. It seems even though it was well above freezing while I was picking (36F and didn’t get much below 29F last night) it felt like many of the apples were frozen, or at least harder than I would have expected. I could still cut them with a knife, and they tasted OK. But I thought I’d ask again what temp can an apple on a tree safely get down to, and what are the symptoms of a “frozen” apple.

  2. And when tracking these apples in storage, how would I know if their storage abilities were compromised by this freeze?

  3. In all likelihood, I will not get all the remaining apples in before dark tonight. What would these apples that have gone through 20F still be good for? I am guessing cider, anything else?

Back out to do some more picking now…

I think you’ll find some varieties (Arkansas Black comes to mind) will be fine after 20 below zero for use within a few days. Eating or culinary use.

OK…I didn’t really mean to say 20 below zero…but 20 degrees F period.

Thanks BB. Guess I will find out. We wrapped up the harvest last nite as it was just too cold/wet to keep your fingers moving out there (and getting dark). We got all of a few choice varieties and just picked the best on the rest of the trees. Most were destined for cider anyhow so hopefully it won’t make that much difference.

May have gotten a reprieve for one night, as it only got down to 26F. Hopefully can finish the harvest today…

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around here we don’t pick cortlands or macs until they have been hit w/ 2 hard frosts. hard here means down to 25f. not sure about other varieties but these 2 are phenomenal after a few frosts. picked a couple pecks last week and they were awesome!

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Thanks moose. Good to hear, as one of the varieties I just finished picking today was Cortland (or was supposed to be, but it doesn’t look much like I remember Cortlands looking). So far all the apples I have picked late seem to be holding their own well. Still good texture and well flavored.

20 degrees, in my experience, destroys the texture of all types of apples. Warmer than that the point damage depends on brix. Sugar is anti-freeze. Most late apples here are high brix- Cortlandt is not, but it ripens here before normal danger of any frost. By the time we have frost it is already mush- even in refrigeration its texture has very short shelf life.