Michigan Apple Producers Expecting Excellent Crop, But Face COVID Headwinds

Michigan Apple Producers Expecting Excellent Crop, But Face COVID Headwinds

No “Skull and Crossbones” for GMO Apple Labels-media-1

Apple harvest in Michigan has ramped up, and according to USDA’s Crop Progress Report, fruit finish has been excellent. That news is welcome to Michigan’s apple industry. Audrey Sebolt, Michigan Farm Bureau Horticulture Specialist, there will be large amounts of people wanting to get in on the u-pick action.

“Many of the apple industry operations are going to have reservations so you’re not waiting in a long line or after waiting you’re told there’s no longer any apples that are available to pick,” she said.

Just like the cherry industry, the apple industry will model its u-pick season after the strawberry industry. Sebolt said restrictions due to the pandemic have them wondering how to handle COVID mitigation costs.

“The strawberry industry was wondering if they should raise their prices or not—some did, but not all did,” she said. “That’s something the apple industry is grappling with—should we raise our costs because of the increased costs of PPE.”

Agritourism can often be a large part of orchards’ income. Sebolt says that fewer school groups won’t be taking field trips because of the pandemic. It won’t only be a financial hit either.

“That will be lost income and a lost opportunity to educate Michigan students about agriculture,” said Sebolt.

The Michigan Apple Committee estimated that Michigan will produce 22 million bushels of apples this year.