[NAFEX] Apple bagging report from Minneapolis, MN (also pears and plums)

Nathan Torgerson nathantorgerson at yahoo.com
Thu Oct 28 23:31:47 EDT 2004

This year I bagged apples on three different trees.  These were fairly young semi-dwarf trees, the fourth fruit season for the Zestar and Fireside, the first year for the Honeycrisp (finally!).

Bagging was completed on June 6th. (Zestar: 102 apples; Honeycrisp: 96; Fireside: 47). I used clear sandwich bags with twist ties. I averaged 60 apples an hour and thinned the tree to one apple per cluster while bagging. I left 6 apples unbagged on the Zestar and Honeycrisp as a control. After June drop was complete (June 25th), I had 17 bagged Firesides left, 62 Zestars, and 69 Honeycrisp.  No spraying was done on any of the trees.

During the summer, about a half dozen apple bags started to collect rain water inside the bags, so I cut holes in the corners of those bags.  

Zestar apples don't have a very long stem, so the twist tie is sitting tight against the apple by harvest time. 

At Harvest, there were a few apples that had been attacked by birds.  The Zestar bagged apples were 80% blemish free.  There were 2 that definitely looked like apple maggots (must have got to the apples before I got them bagged. One apple was being occupied by ants. (I must have tied the twist-tie a little too loose on a few of them.)  The Zestar control apples were seriously malformed by apple maggots.  

The Honeycrisp apples were about 90% blemish free.  On this tree, the control apples were fairly clean too, only one had apple maggots.

The fireside tree itself wasn't doing so hot,  so I replaced it with a new one, replanting it outside the deer fence.  I got four good apples off of it, with the rest disappearing, bags and all.

The Zestar apples may have been picked a few days later than they should have been(September 1st, after half of them fell off the tree the night before), but they stored well for 1 month at 32 deg and were fairly high quality. A few showed some signs of wrinkling after a couple weeks of storage.

  The Honeycrisp apples have been storing well so far and have also been high quality, though some of the apples (20%) were a little small.

Just for kicks, I bagged a few Luscious pears (3 out of 20) and Superior plums (3 out of 15). I planted these trees last year...they are about 7 feet tall.  The plums did not liked to be bagged, All three of them split and they didn't seem to ripen as fast.  The pears did just fine, and they ripened 3-5 days earlier than the unbagged pears. All of my pears, bagged and unbagged, were blemish free.

Overall a good year, looking forward to seeing if I thinned the trees enough to have a good crop next year!

Nate Torgerson, Zone 4, Andover, MN


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