Fruit producers grateful for good apple crop

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Apple Growers Committee

One of America's favorite table apples, the Honeycrisp (shown here) is ripening now, with some early fruit already in area markets like King Orchards in Central Lake and Kewadin.


CENTRAL LAKE – As the weather cools and the leaves start to change, apple crops begin to ripen. And with a cooler, moist growing season, this year's crop in northern lower Michigan is predicted to be a good one.

John King, who with his brother Jim owns and operates King Orchards in Central Lake and Kewadin, said earlier this week that all of the family's 155 acres of apples are expected to produce well this year.

"All of our apples are good-sized this year, and with the rain we're getting now we'll get some good color on them," said King, who grows a wide variety of table and cooking apples.

"Right now, we've got Zestar and Sanzas in the market, and this week we'll be bringing in the Paula Reds and Ginger Golds," the fruit producer noted.

Most of the apple varieties on the farm are ripening on time, although some are a bit delayed with the late start to the pollination season last spring, he added.

"But, our Honeycrisp fans will be happy to know that we already have a few available," King said. "The Honeycrisps should really get going next week."

Besides the prime varieties of table apples like Honeycrisp and Gala, King Orchards is now also growing tarter cider apples to accommodate the current interest in hard ciders and meads across the country, as well as locally.

"We do still ship a lot of our apples to packing houses for use in ciders and meads as well as for the traditional cooking recipes. But we offer a lot of those varieties for sale in our markets as well," King noted.

One of those longtime favorite cooking apples, the McIntosh, along with Northern Spys, Empires and Idareds (also great cooking varieties) will be ready soon as well, King predicted.

"We have a lot of different varieties every year," he said. "They come and go as other varieties become more popular that are easier to grow and pack."

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