ALABAMA A&M and AUBURN UNIVERSITIES
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contact Donna Reynolds, Extension Assistant Editor
AUBURN, OCT. 23---After picking the last of those juicy ripe apples, the season is over, right? This is hardly the case. There is a lot that goes into post-harvest care of apples and apple trees, says Dr. Arlie Powell, an Extension horticulturist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
Remove excess growth from trees two to three weeks before harvest. This maintenance pruning is helpful when it comes time to harvest. Pick fruit when they are tree ripe for the best flavor.
After harvest, don't forget to use fungicidal sprays, says Powell. Keep an eye on nuisance insects and maintain pest management. Just because you picked the fruit, doesn't mean the tree is free of problems. Applying late sprays helps prevent leaf diseases. Also, irrigate trees as required.
Apples can be stored for three to four months between 32-35 degrees Fahrenheit. Store apples in a plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator.
Remember the old adage about not mixing apples and oranges. Odors and natural gases released by other fruits can taint your apples and give them an odd taste if you keep them together for an extended time, says Powell.
If you have Granny Smith apples growing, consider having them as a sweet fruit this year. Let the apples stay on the trees up to first frost. The starch is converted to sugar, but late in the season the apples lose their tartness. Pick them when they ripen, as they begin to blush. By now, the apples will be very sweet. Traditionally, Granny Smith apples go in pies, ciders or are served as baked apples, but with a sweet Granny apple, you can have a delicious snack all by itself.