MUSKEGON, Mich. — Apples are big business in Michigan and early varieties are now ready to be picked at orchards in Muskegon County.
The Kooistra Orchard market just opened along Maple Island Road in Muskegon County, and U-pick at the orchard started Friday, Sept. 11.
Among the varieties ripe now are Gala, McIntosh, Blondie and Courtland.
The Michigan Apple Committee expects the state's apple harvest to be around 22.5 million bushels. The 2020 estimate is in line with the size of the 2019 crop.
Farmer Doug Kooistra believes he'll have a slightly larger crop at his orchard.
"I had a light crop last year, especially in the Honeycrisp," Kooistra said. "Last year we also had hail damage in August, I'm finding that my crop is a little bit bigger."
According to the USDA, there are more than 14.9 million apple trees in commercial production, covering 34,500 acres on 775 family-run farms in Michigan.
Kooistra says the harvest season usually last around six weeks, and even with COVID-19 it's easy to practice social distancing in an apple orchard.
"They don't have to be by each other, and stick with their own family," Kooistra said. "And there's nobody telling you where you got to pick or anything like that, you can roam the whole 20-acres if you want to."
Michigan Apples are typically shipped from mid-August all the way through the following June.
For more information, visit MichiganApples.com.
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