Liberty apples having a good year

It’s weeks earlier than typical, but my Liberties are falling and I’ve been picking them. It’s a big crop even though I thinned perhaps 95% of the apples off.

Pluses: Great color, crunch, juiciness, flavor. They’re really just about everything I expect of a Liberty, and I expect flavor to develop further over the next few weeks.

Negatives: There’s a lot of size variation, which is probably a horticultural issue having to do with my limited pruning skills. They have short, short stems and they’re hard to pick, except for the ones that are ready to fall! There was a lot of hail damage, some of it pretty bad.

I suspect that they’re early because we had a very hot couple of weeks in June, followed by more typical weather into August. The nights have chilled off lately, but we’re still getting quite a few sunny, Indian Summer days.

Still to come: Montana Red, Haralson, Carousel, Yellow Delicious, Pixie Crunch, Prairie Spy, Karmjin d’ Sonneville, Jonagold, Stayman Winesap … maybe a few Rubinette. I don’t know what I’m going to do for storage; the food bank and neighbors will get some.

Four sprays of Spinosad (with the first spray having a little Triazicide I was using up) did the trick as far as codling moth is concerned. I’ve found virtually no insect damage.


I picked my Liberty too soon, but still pretty good. It’s their first year cropping. They did very well with only a single Spectracide spray for curculio after petal drop. Some fruits were pretty ugly, but some were quite nice. Good size on them all as I thinned very aggressively.

Mark, last year your Liberties were early. Mine are starting to drop but still have some sharpness tonite when I ate one. Do they hold well after you piick them and do the ripen further in storage? This is our first good crop from the tree and I don’t want to screw it up.

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‘Mornin’ Chikn. You must have posted just about the time I went to bed last night! We were beat.

Congratulations on your crop. I wish I had bragging rights on my apple this year, but things just didn’t come together and in addition I missed the timing on a spray and have a lot of codling moth damage. Well, next year … at least my pears are doing well.

While it is hard to say without doing a taste test (crunch test?) it sounds like it’s getting close to time for you. I’ll tell you what I did that worked so well for me last year.

Liberties ripen over an extended period so I don’t recommend just picking the whole tree all at once. I would do the lift test -cradle the fruit in your palm, lift to horizontal and see if it wants to fall- and, obviously, take any that came right off, maybe giving a slight twist- tug as you let the fruit back down. I think it’s best to get them before they fall on their own. Within half a week or so you’ll get a good sense of what wants picked and what wants left -and of course, you’ll be sampling as you go, no doubt. But I was often surprised to find fruit on the ground the morning after I picked, so there you have it.

We found you can get about three pounds in a 15" unperforated poly (bread) bag -the heavier the better, don’t use no wimpy bags- and we’d tie them shut nice and tight and refrigerate them right away. Keeping them close to 32 F worked very well for us. After picking through the middle of September we kept them this way right into March, although by the end of February they were definitely in decline, and the last one I ate the first week of April was definitely an outlier.

Liberties are a fairly sharp apple that can have amazing flavor in a good year and be a little disappointing in an off year. Here’s to more good years for yours!


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So Mark, what indicators do you use to tell you that it is time to spray? Tree stage? Air temp? Rain? Time since the last spray? I see all these mentioned and am a little confused. I so want to avoid wormy fruit :confused:

Hi Anne,

Yeah, last year was great! But this year I think I just dropped the ball. I always use pheromone traps to help track activity and then listen to our local country extension agent’s weekly “Insect Hotline”. But this year life got complicated and I flat-out missed my last spray, may have been off with my third. So it was operator error this year.

There are charts that track time/temperature and I think they’re probably very useful, but frankly I’m lazy and depending on the county extension has sufficed- so long as I pay attention!