Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

November 10, 2013

Michigan growers trying to get apples to doze off

CENTRAL LAKE — This year’s Michigan apple crop is expected to be 10 times as plentiful as last year’s puny output.

While the big bounce-back is welcomed in the nation’s third-largest apple-producing state, the bounty presents its own challenges: How do growers, packers and processors maximize storage to avoid flooding stores with the fruit, thus crashing the market and lowering growers’ profits?

The answer, as it turns out, lies in getting the apples to go to sleep — and stay that way.

Two techniques — one relatively new, the other a play on time-tested refrigeration — are keeping apples fresh and flavorful longer than ever, with some varieties “sleeping” for as many as 9 to 10 months to keep consumers happy until the next harvest.

A fairly recent innovation called 1-methylcyclopropene, or 1-MCP, temporarily stops apples’ ability to respond to their own cues for ripening. They are sealed inside a room where blowing fans spread the 1-MCP compound in a gaseous form, so it can work its way inside the fruit.

Known commercially as “SmartFresh,” it “has been a game-changer for apple storage and is partly responsible for the up-trending consumption of apples in the U.S. over the last 5 to 10 years,” Michigan State University horticulture professor Randy Beaudry said. He is involved in updating a traditional apple refrigeration method known as “controlled-atmosphere storage,” or “CA,” to double the time Honeycrisp apples can be stored.

In a typical year, Michigan’s 9.2 million trees produce 20 million to 23 million bushels, pumping up to $900 million into the economy.

The state’s 2013 harvest is projected to be around 30 million bushels, which roughly equals out to 382 medium-sized apples for every state resident; 12 for every American.

Yet, its 2012 crop was about 90 percent smaller, the biggest apple crop loss since the 1940s, according to the Michigan Apple Committee, a nonprofit funded by the state’s growers. Apple trees bloomed early because of an extraordinary heat wave in March, followed by a series of frosts and freezes that killed most of the blossoms.

Text Only

Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
Bill Murray Continues To Be Just Bill Murray By Eating Some Free Bill Murray Ice Cream Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Hillary Clinton Blamed Bill's Affair With Monica Lewinsky On Abuse He Suffered As A Child 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl