[nafex] how to tell if apples are ripe?

david.maxwell at dal.ca david.maxwell at dal.ca
Mon Aug 27 12:44:03 EDT 2012

Last year I supplemented the methods suggested (basically taste and check of seed colour) 
with a starch-iodine test.  I have 52 different cultivars, and in most instances nobody locally 
had the slightest idea when they would ripen.  The standard starch-iopdine charts are 
cultivar-specific, but I arbitrarily took the point of roughly half staining as the measure of 
ripeness, and this seemed to correlate well with taste.  The other determinant is whether they 
will come away cleanly when picked, (lift and twist - if it doesn't come off in your hand, it isn't 
ripe.  Leave it for a bit.) This is particularly significant with cultivars which do not in fact ripen 
evenly, and require several pickings, (like Williams Pride).

Of more interest (or puzzlement) is how to judge this year.  We have had an unusually hot 
summer, and the commercial growers are talking of their apples ripening "10 days" ahead of 
last year.  Some of my cultivars are indeed 10-14 days ahead, (Williams Pride), but some of 
them which ripened end September last year are falling in large numbers, and have brown 
seeds. (Difficult to tell by taste because they are cider apples , (Browns Apple), and pretty 
inedible at the best of times.)

> How can I tell when to pick them? Probably I should pick some now,
> even if they aren't fully ripe, just to get some apples. You never
> know what critter will take an interest in the tree tomorrow, after
> all.
> Thanks,
> Ginda 
> eastern MA, zone 6

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