Michigan Apples: Take a Tour With Us!

ApplesWhen you’re at the grocery store or the farmers market, picking an apple doesn’t really seem like a big deal.

A recent tour of West Michigan apple destinations – Sietsema Orchards & Cider Mill, Youngquist Farms, Jack Brown Produce, Inc., and Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery – revealed just how much there is to the planting, harvesting, disease and pest management, production, sales, and consumption of this delicious fruit.

Organized by the Michigan Apple Committee, the Michigan apple blogger tour invited local and not-so-local bloggers (one came from as far away as Texas) to take a day to learn everything they could about Michigan apples.

We learned so much that this is only the first of four posts we’ll devote to the topic of pure, Michigan apples, this being their official month and all. In the next week or so, we’ll report on what goes into the farming of apples, their production, and finally some of the unique ways growers are marketing the fruit to an ever-changing consumer marketplace.

But first, check out these facts about the apple industry in Michigan and some of the links below to great recipes and ways to find and enjoy Michigan apples near you.

An apple tree at Sietsema Orchards & Cider Mill, one of four stops on a recent Michigan apple blogger tour.
An apple tree at Sietsema Orchards & Cider Mill, one of four stops on a recent Michigan apple blogger tour. Photo credit: Julie Bitely

Michigan Apple Fast Facts:

  • Michigan apples are sold in 26 states and 18 countries.
  • There are 850 growers in the state, overseeing 36,500 acres of orchards, with 9.2 million trees in the ground.
  • Apples are grown pretty much everywhere in the lower peninsula, with 70 percent of production happening in the Fruit Ridge, a growing region that’s about eight miles wide and 20 miles long, covering 158 square miles of land in portions of Kent, Newaygo, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties. It’s centered near Sparta, Michigan.
  • Michigan is ranked #3 in terms of apple production, behind Washington state as the #1 apple producer, and New York state being #2. The second-place designation goes back and forth between New York and Michigan, depending on crop yield.
  • Growers expect to harvest upwards of 29 million bushels of apples in 2014, following a record-setting yield of 30 million in 2013. This is great news for farmers due to a dismal crop loss in 2012. An early heat wave followed by a cold, frost-filled spring that year, resulted in the largest apple crop loss since the 1940s.

Are all those apple facts making you hungry to bite into a big, juicy apple? No? These recipes featuring Michigan apples definitely will.

Okay, maybe reading about apples at least made you want to go buy some or maybe even pick some for yourself? There’s a Michigan apple finder link for that too, where you can find places near you to satisfy your apple cravings.

Thanks to the Michigan Apple Committee for including us on a great tour of a booming state industry. Check back for more coverage of what we learned.

Photo credit: Sean Benham




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