How do you know when to pick apples?

nettlerose(Canberra ACT)March 9, 2005

I am a novice apple grower and for the first time I actually have apples on my two trees that don't have codling moth. They are Granny Smith and Lady Williams which are later apples (May/June) but I was wondering how do you tell when they are ready to pick? It is not like a nectarine or other fruit that you can feel, or is it? I know I have a couple of months but thought I would get in early as some look ready to pick now size wise.


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ozmantis(VIC Aust)

When they start falling on the ground and your dog is eating them :-)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 8:27PM
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Raymondo(Armidale, NSW)

That's not as silly as it sounds. As a kid, our neighbours had apple trees and when they started looking close, we'd start sampling them until they ripened enough to eat, then gorge ourselves. If caught of course, we got into lots of trouble but back then we were young, quick and agile, and could scamper without being seen. Most of the time! But the owners of the trees started picking when the first few fell.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 8:36PM
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nettlerose(Canberra ACT)

Thats my problem ozmantis. We don't have a dog. :)

There is a big granny on one of them and it looks ready to me but in theory they shouldn't be ready unitl May. I know this seems like a super dumb question but I really have no idea. I guess trial and error is the answer. Some little undeveloped ones fell onto the ground a few months ago but they were not ready they must have been drought stressed.

Thanks guys.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 10:01PM
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Spatzbear(SA Aust)

Nettlerose, we have the same problem here. Trial and error. If the apples are not supposed to be ripe until May, give them more time. We have a Granny Smith here which looks ready, too, but that's very deceiving. If you must, take the apple in your hand and give it a little tug. If it doesn't come off, it's not ready. It should only be a little tug, not pulling like mad. :)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 10:43PM
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cosmicgardener(N W TAS)

I wait until the stalks start to turn brown and dry. While they are green and sappy they are still feeding the apple even though the growth is slowing down. But I also sample them now and then you to be on the safe side!


    Bookmark   March 10, 2005 at 12:14AM
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nettlerose(Canberra ACT)

Thank you spatz and Linda, some great hints. I have always wanted apple trees, and Canberra is good for apples weather wise but not so good pest wise. The codling moth is quite a problem but I must have struck paydirt this year as only a few lost to codling moth without spraying. They are only small trees so we have not had a crop yet, so looks like apple pie is on the menu for winter.
I sprayed the trees with diluted seasol before the flowers came on and they seemed to enjoy that a lot.:)

    Bookmark   March 10, 2005 at 2:43AM
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DerbyTas(NE Tas)

Have heard that when the pips start to go brown they are ripe enough to eat
Also...when you can flip one back from the stalk and it snaps off rather has to be pulled and tugged from the branch

    Bookmark   March 11, 2005 at 12:09AM
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nettlerose(Canberra ACT)

Thanks Peter. I did the tug test today and they were still firmly attached, so I will leave them until May/June to try again. I am just being impatient. :)

    Bookmark   March 11, 2005 at 1:44AM
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Neilb(Victoria, Austr)

Hello Nettlerose,
All of the above is good advice, except if you are expecting flavour like the supermarket you will pick a lot of apples too early. A tree ripened Granny is much better than what you would expect from the shop, they are picked too early so as to store. The seed colour is the indicator I use most.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2005 at 10:35PM
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nettlerose(Canberra ACT)

Thanks Neilb. I am learning a lot using these boards, a community of knowledge is better than mine alone. Can't wait until May.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2005 at 12:30AM
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Spatzbear(SA Aust)

Nettlerose, how's your Granny and Lady William?

I keep tugging and flipping to test the ripeness, but the apples are still firmly attached to the trees. Only the occasional apple will come off.
So there are still quite a few apples to be harvested at my place.

I blame the very dry weather.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 9:26PM
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nicefrog(SouthVic, z9-10)

When they start falling on the ground on mass they will be perfect for eating, easy : ), I could eat a Granny Smith Apple in March if I wanted but I would regret it :p As I type this 95% of our Granny Smith apples are still hanging on the tree, the thing has hardly any leaves but plenty of apples and they are premium for eating right now, plenty sweet and that's not normal for a commercial Granny Smith that's picked about 2 months too early. The moral of the story is, leave them as long as they will stay on the tree and you'll never have a sour apple again

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 2:52AM
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Spatzbear(SA Aust)

Thanks, nicefrog. My tree looks just like yours. Will wait and watch. No hurry here. :)

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 3:36AM
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I've been eating apples right off the tree my entire life. For the past thirty years I've been living in a major apple growing area of Southern British Columbia here in Canada. When apples have a nice blush to them (besides fruit falling from the tree) that is the first sign they are ready for picking. Taste your fruit when they appear to be ripe, when you like what you are eating pick your fruit. Fruit on the tree will eventually ripen to the point of being mealy so don't leave the fruit hanging too long.
As for those Coddling Moths try hanging sticky yellow cards in your trees. Yellow cards attract flying insects such as aphids and all sorts of other flying insects that can damage fruit and even ruin the tree over time. Here in Canada orchardists have been combating Coddling Moth by releasing sterile moths that help to reduce the overall population.
Apple trees are lime lovers. They thrive in sweet soil. Add as much as two kilos of hydrated or dolomite lime as a top dressing around each tree right out to their drip lines. Another given with apples is water. Obviously with water restrictions in much of Australia watering your apple tree may be out of the question however with sufficient watering fruit will be bigger, juicier, with enough sunshine add wonderful sweetness! Oh yes! Don't forget, 'An Apple a Day . . . !'

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 2:44AM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

I recall sampling apples as a kid. If they were not ripe enough it was fairly easy to develop a "belly ache".

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 1:12PM
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This is a piggy back message on top of joecarrto of BC above. As you apparently have water restrictions, as do I in So. California, you need to mulch the root bed of the tree. Use about 4 inches of anything from the drip line of the tree into the trunk of the tree (leaving the mulch 6 to 12 inches away from the trunk). What to use - anything that is organic that will not burn the roots and will allow oxygen in and preserve the water you have put under the tree such as newspaper (not the colored ones), cardboard boxes, leaves, lawn clipping (no weed seed pods), rotted manure, or a combination of the above. It will retain moisture many times over and will also provide nutrients to the tree as the above material fully rots. This list is not exaustive - depends on what you have in your area such as mushroom waste, coconut waste, peanut or other nut shells, wood chippings from tree removal, etc. Hope this helps as it sure helps in my part of the world. PS - Think the eating of green apples is an old wives tale. In fact, including green apples in jam is superb as they are high in pectin. Using super ripe apples in canning makes for mushy preserved items. I always try to use at least 25% green apples in anything apple that I can or preserve. Jim in So California

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 3:04AM
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snoopy47(South Australia)

So simple in Auz I am surprised no one else has responded to it. The parrots will visit on a regular basis and take several bites out of those that are ripe leaving you the leftovers.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 12:11AM
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nettlerose(Canberra ACT)

I have not been on this site for a few years and what a surprise when I checked in today to see this subject still alive. Thanks everyone for your earlier advice.

Sadly I lost the Granny Smith tree about a year ago - not sure whether it was the effects of the drought or another problem. The Lady Williams had some lovely apples but has not fruited for a while because of the loss of the Granny - am going to buy another one soon. The Cox's Orange Pippin and Discovery apples are smaller but doing well. No fruit yet.

Thanks for the tip about the sticky paper for codling moth.

We are turning our backyard into a full permaculture/organic system and are finding ways to be clever about using as much space as possible for fruit trees, berries and vegies (both perennial and annual).

    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 4:12AM
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