Good harvesting

30Sep_Apple_Harvest_MG_3863We picked apples in « le jardin de Saint Simon » yesterday. We look at what we did well and could have done better, and provide a link for further guidance on when and how to harvest all kinds of garden fruit.


« Le jardin de Saint Simon » belongs to my father and my aunt and is located six kilometers away from the city of Aurillac in the Auvergne region of France. Yesterday we picked fruit from one of the seven apple trees in the garden and gathered windfalls.

What we did well

First, we picked perfectly ripe apples.


Most of the apples on the tree were perfectly ripe. This year was good for this cultivar of juicy and deliciously sweet dessert apples and we got large fruit, with a diameter of up to 8 centimeters. Photo 30 September 2015, Saint Simon, Auvergne, France.


Ten days ago, many of the apples still had a greenish ground. Since, most of the remaining starch has turned into sugar and we have now the warmer yellows, oranges and reds of the ripe specimens featured in the first photo and the wooden crate below. Photo 20 September.


Second, we took care of windfalls:


Windfalls from a tall apple tree we picked on Monday 28. The apples from this cultivar get bruised easily, and some of them are infested. I will save what I can and they will be delicious once stewed. Photo 30 September.


The smaller, more damaged apples and the windfalls from the other trees will be given to make cider. I put them in front of the house and made our neighbour aware of it. Photo 30 September.


What we could have done better

First, we could have started gathering and giving windfalls to make cider a month ago. There were lots of apples on the trees this year and many of them got infested and dropped during this particularly hot and sunny summer. Bugs have a strong taste for ripeness, these early windfalls were already suitable for cider.


My father likes to remove windfalls from under the trees to keep a clean lawn. He is used to throwing them away, it is an old habit. I saved some of the most recent ones yesterday. We are lucky enough to have someone in the neighbourhood who makes cider, it is an opportunity to use as much local fruit as we can. Photo 30 September.


Second, we could have started to pick some of the apples in the past fortnight, as healthy apples had begun to fall off the tree. In particular we could have tested the ripeness of the fruit within reach by holding it in the palm of the hand and slightly lifting it. The apples easily coming out of the spur would have been saved from dropping to the ground and getting bruised.


These are mostly healthy windfalls from the tree we picked today. My aunt has picked them up from the ground in the past fortnight. Fortunately the apples of this cultivar do not get easily bruised and the fruit dropped to relatively thick grass. However they won’t keep for long and we intend to eat them in the coming days. Photo 30 September.


Further guidance

Overall, we were quite pleased with our harvesting day. Finding the perfect timing to harvest is not an obvious thing to do, and one may be tempted to just wait until the first frost so that the fruit ripens even more on the tree.

In fact it is a trade-off between picking perfectly ripe fruit from the tree and an increasing amount of healthy fruit falling off, unless checking ripeness and picking the ripe fruit is carried out on an ongoing basis. We must also take the weather into account, as picking on a dry day is an other requirement for good harvesting.

I hope this is helpful. Further guidance on how and when to harvest is available on the UK Royal Horticultural Society website. The information is located in the page “Fruit: harvesting“. From cherries and soft fruit to autumn fruit, the article provides simple and clear advice, as ever, which should be of great help.


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