Tree Fruit Newsletter — September 6, 2023

New apple variety bred at Highmoor Farm.
A new selection from Highmoor Farm apple breeding. Ripened the first week of Sept. and as sour as Northern Spy and Granny Smith. From a cross between Honeycrisp and Pristine. Photo by: Dr. Renae Moran

Maturity report followed by some announcements

Apple Maturity at Highmoor Farm

McIntosh: A small decrease in starch since last week, and a very small drop in Delta reading. Flavor is still sour.

Honeycrisp: A drop in both starch and Delta reading, but it’s still early for Honeycrisp, unless you have the early-ripening strain. Color is poor, and size is variable.

Gala: Starch and chlorophyll breakdown have occurred. Size is small, and color is slow to develop. These need more time on the tree. It is unclear if the size will improve in this variety because of the poor seed counts and freeze damage.

Cortland and Empire: Baseline measures for reference only. These varieties typically ripen after Macs and Honeycrisp.

Variety Testing Results

Variety Starch Index Delta Absorbance meter reading*
Gala 1.4 0.99
McIntosh standard Strain 3.8 1.89
McIntosh spur type 4.0 1.93
Honeycrisp 2.2 1.36
Cortland 1.0 1.51
Empire 2.0 1.71

*Delta reading is a measure of chlorophyll breakdown in the peel and change in ground color from green to yellow. Numbers decrease as fruits ripen. Gala and Honeycrisp readings between 0.8 and 0.4 indicate sufficient maturity for storage. Standards for other varieties have not been determined. McIntosh readings will remain higher than other varieties throughout the harvest.

Starch index numbers increase as fruit ripen and are a relative measure of starch breakdown. Macs are generally good for long-term storage when starch index reaches 4.0, but starch index may be off this year. Honeycrisp are usually good for long-term storage when starch index passes 4.5.

Business Planning Course

Starting a new farming, horticulture, forestry or aquaculture business in Maine? Launching in October, Business Planning 4 Producers is a multi-session course designed to help you evaluate potential land or sea-based businesses and understand the core concepts of business planning including: market research, marketing, funding, financial record keeping and sustainability. Successful completion of this course qualifies students for USDA Farm Service Agency Borrower Training Credit.
Registration opens September 11 at noon and space is limited.
Zoom meetings, Thursday 5:00–7:00 p.m., October 5 – December 14
Course fee is $250, with scholarships available.

Cut Flower Twilight Meeting

Please join the UMaine Extension’s Maine New Farmers’ Project for a New Farmers’ educational Twilight Meeting at Veggies to Table in Newcastle, ME. Farmer-Executive Director Erica Berman will lead a tour of the farm with a specific focus on cut flower tips and tricks including dahlia production. Come with your questions about growing flowers in Maine, CSAs, and pop-ups. This is a great opportunity for new farmers to learn about the types of flowers you can grow in Maine, to meet each other, and meet other farmers and ag service providers.
September 12, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.
Location: 27 Bailey Lane, Newcastle, Maine 04553
Cost: Free, but please register to make sure you stay updated about the event.


Renae Moran
UMaine Cooperative Extension Tree Fruits Program
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
PO Box 179
Monmouth, ME 04259
(207) 933-2100


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