With a cooler climate, proximity to lakes and nutrient-rich soil, generations of northern Michigan farmers have found this to be an ideal place to grow their produce. More than 14.9 million apple trees covering 34,500 acres make the state the third-largest producer of apples in the country.
Grown mostly north of Grand Rapids, the apple crop is one of the state's largest cash-value fruit crops. Harvesting starts in August and ends in October each year. This season, the state is expecting to harvest 18.25 million bushels of apples (766.5 million pounds); a smaller than usual crop because of April’s freezing temperatures.
There are 775 family-run farms in Michigan growing apples, many that have continued the tradition over several generations.
Though a smaller crop this year, the fruit is looking good and there is plenty to enjoy. Diane Smith is the executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, a commodity group established in 1939 to represent Michigan apple growers. In a recent statement she said: “When apple trees produce a smaller crop, energy is stored and directed toward production for the next crop. The industry is hopeful we’ll see a larger crop next year.“