Low Brix Honeycrisps

This year I managed to avoid devastating bitter rot to my Honeycrisp apples for the first time in a while and the fruit is big, beautiful and dropping off the tree ripe. In the past, the fungicides I used were good for flyspeck, sooty blotch and other kinds of rot but Captan is supposed to be best to protect Honeycrisp from bitter rot so I sprayed these two trees every couple of weeks with Captan, and either it worked or the dry weather from mid-summer on vastly reduced this problem.

The problem with the apples is still insufficient sugar with a brix reading of 12.5 Not quite ripe Ashmead’s Kernel and Cox are reading at 15 now and have a lot more flavor. Their sugar should go up a point or two in the next week or so and will become sweeter beyond that with a little storage but I doubt the Honeycrisp will ever be exceptionally good. I think the fruit used to be better and smaller when the roots were not so well established. I’m also starting to side with FN that early water deficit is at least as important as later to get up fruit sugars. These apples are huge because of ample rain AND sun the first half of summer and huge apples seem often to be lacking in huge flavor. They sure look pretty and have all the snap and juice of a perfect Honeycrisp- I just need to inject some more fructose.


Very nice report. I’m wary of the bigger than normal fruits on trees with a normal crop load. I think it’s indicative of growing conditions that lower sugar and flavor. The lousy Honeycrisp that I’ve had from the store were around 10. But I think that’s probably due to being picked too early and/or being over cropped.

I think 12.5 is about as sweet a Honeycrisp as I have ever had. Google pulled up


where they are excited about 12.4 brix on the HC. I agree for home growing it should be higher, I have only had commercial ones.

My October Gravenstein straight off the tree were 17 brix. Huge apples and high sugars, more sugar than I ever had in my regular Gravensteins. Most of the other apples tend to be around 15.

I just tested a nicely ripened Golden Delicious at 16.5 brix. To me they taste less sweet than normal. But the tree was heavily cropped compared to recent yrs with light crops due to spring freeze damage. The tree was also possibly slightly over watered as the apples were large to even very large considering crop load.

I’d think an eating ripe Honeycrisp should be more than the 12.5 listed in Scott’s link. They’re talking commercial ripe. If that’s all it’s good for mine will be gone. But I’ve got to hang on long enough to get a crop. I’m on third crop of Goldrush same age as Honeycrisp and later hasn’t even bloomed yet.

Scott, will you have any of that Oct Grav wood available? That sounds interesting and would be a great cooking apple, I expect.

Sure, just ask this winter. This is the first year fruiting but its really impressing so far. It is somewhat prone to rot, but its better than many apples in this horrible rot year.

My mother got a box of large Honeycrisp apples from Yakima and gave me a few. They are the first in several years that I find worth eating, but still nowhere near as good as the first year I had them over 10 years ago.

They measure 15 brix. In general, the apples I like eating are 16 or higher. For some reason I assumed Honeycrisp was naturally in the 16+ range, but that UMASS list is sobering.

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Do you have wasps attacking your apples or do keep them mostly under control?

Alan, in your coverage area is Asmead’s ripe around the first week in Oct.
and do you experience a lot of fruit drop with this variety? About half of the fruit has already dropped.

I just ran through some crop reports from Michigan from a few days ago…looks like brix readings are mostly 11’s to 12 for HoneyCrisp…seems like they are looking for starch content to be in a certain range before harvesting… must be normal for that variety…

Tuffa, yes the Ashmeads are dropping a lot, but they form in clusters and they also get stung by wasps a lot which causes a lot of that. I believe the ones that are dropping will be highly flavored if they are allowed to ripen a bit off the tree- they’re pretty good already.

Murky, if these were 15 they’d undoubtedly be much better. I don’t think it’s actually a very good variety for my region even if the commercial growers can still sell them at this brix level for a premium price. I’m hoping cooler nights will encourage higher brix levels for the later ripening ones on the trees. The problem is they drop the moment the ground color changes from green to yellow. I hate apples that do that.

I was good on the peaches but come fall I get too busy at work so lots of things slip through the cracks in the orchard. My wasp traps I stopped maintaining. They are not horrible, if they get really bad I will put out the traps. I also slipped on the deer control, I think someone out to fix something in my yard turned off the water and I just found out. Lots of deer damage meanwhile.

On a mostly unrelated point I set a new brix record for my apples tonight, an early Rubinette is 17.5 brix. These guys and the Wickson next to it may need the wasp trap.

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So far, this year’s locally-grown Honeycrisps have been disappointing to me. The texture is weird, and the flavor is strangely different from past years.

I’m hoping others will be better. Maybe I got a bad batch.

My own Honeycrisp tree continues to grow, but another year with still no apples.

I have found most HoneyCrisp I buy from supermarkets have a funny taste to me almost like their bad.

I have about 30 Apples for my first year of having a HC crop on Cape Cod. just picked and ate my first one this morning after reading that they were probably ready for picking on here. The Apple is very crisp, when biting into it it feels like a knife cutting it when you bite it. The Apple is very juicy and I almost chocked on the sweet juice when swallowing it. My apples are on a Home Depot labeled dwarf so I am not sure what root stock it’s on. The apples are mostly small or average sized probably because I have not watered it except from natural rain which has been few and far between this summer. the fruit color varies probably because of the location of this tree which was the last one I planted and so it got the worst location in my tiny row of trees. Some of the apples have Slight russetting on them. It’s a good sweet Apple, but right now I’m also picking Macintosh and some Macoun which are some of my favorites so it definitely not my first pick although I’m sure my kids will love them.

Just wanted to mention that I picked a Honeycrisp from a tree I was pruning today. I grafted it on a seedling tree on a site with full sun and was on a branch with a light crop. It had a 14 brix level and was a good apple. On my site even well exposed nursery Honeycrips with very light crops are the same as the ones on my orchard trees so I’m guessing the difference is dawn to dusk sun.

I doubt it has anything to do with water because the good Honeycrisp is growing in a deep clay loam.