Golden, bright red, or juicy green – we love deliciously ripe apples from our own fruit tree in almost any colour. But how can you tell when an apple is ideally ripe? What aspects should be considered during the harvesting process, and what can you do to ensure that your fruit tree bears many splendid apples every year? We’ve compiled all the answers, tips, and tricks regarding questions about apple tree harvesting that you need to know.
To find out the right time to harvest, you should not rely on the colour of the apple, because the fruits often already show a beautiful red colour a few weeks before the time of optimal ripeness. The early red colouring of an apple can easily deceive fruit tree owners. A better indication to determine whether the fruit is ripe is therefore to cut open one apple. If the seeds of the apple are no longer white or yellowish, but deep brown, it is ripe.
The tilt test provides an almost certain indication of harvest ripeness. Pick an apple from the tree and tilt it slightly upwards in your hand. If it can be easily detached from the branch together with the stem, it is ready for harvesting. The important thing with this trick is to tilt the apple carefully instead of twisting it. If you twist apples off the branch, the stem often comes off as well, even when it’s not ripe. Especially for later storage, however, it is essential that the stem remains attached to the apple.
Also note that, often, not all apples on your fruit tree will be ripe at exactly the same time. This means that you can always pick fresh, juicy apples over many summer days.
When it is time to harvest your apples, it is important to pick the fruit carefully so that no bruises or damage occur. These would have negative consequences for storage. The most important piece of equipment you’ll need for harvesting is a sturdy ladder. This should be carefully placed so as not to endanger your personal safety. Ideally suited is the HAILO ProfiLOT combination ladder, which can compensate for uneven ground with the help of the LOT system – a real safety advantage, especially on uneven garden ground. If the ladder is not high enough to reach the top apples of the tree, an apple picker with telescopic handle is a useful aid. In addition, an apple-picking apron can be a useful tool.
The mostly uneven surfaces in the garden pose a considerable problem for your ladder’s stability, and thus your safety. Regardless of whether it's a slight slope or annoying steps, with the HAILO S100 ProfiLOT you always have a secure footing. The so-called LOT system compensates for uneven ground up to a height of 15 cm. Crossbars with large paw feet provide additional stability and slip resistance. Depending on the model, working heights of up to 9m can be achieved. With the HAILO S100 ProfiLOT, almost no surface is too uneven and almost no apple tree is too high.
When it comes to storing the harvested apples, there are also a few points to bear in mind. If the harvest takes place on very hot summer days, it is beneficial to let the apples cool down overnight before storing them specifically. However, you should not wash or polish the fruit. This could damage their soft wax layer, which has a natural protective function.
Wooden crates are particularly suitable for storage. You can place the apples in loose layers in the crates on some newspaper. Make sure that you handle the apples very carefully so that they do not get bruised.
The apples should be stored in a cool and dark place. However, the room temperature should not fall below four degrees Celsius. The ideal temperature is around eight degrees Celsius. While the apples are in storage, you should check every now and then to see if there is a bad specimen with rotten spots among them. These should be sorted out immediately. Another good tip is not to store apples near other fruit. This is because the ripening gases from the apples can accelerate the spoilage process of other fruit.
To ensure that your apple tree produces a bountiful harvest again next year, it is important to take good care of it. In addition to fertilising and frequent watering in dry periods, this includes pruning. This is done between November and March, when the tree is in its resting phase. During these months it is always worth remembering: if you spend enough time caring for your apple tree, you will be rewarded with plenty of juicy apples the following year.