There are many opinions about when is the best time to harvest your apples. If you only have one or two small trees and plan to eat the fruit soon after harvest determining the exact date when the fruit is fully mature is less important than it is if you have an acre or two of apples trees. If you need to store fruit for a long time eat it fresh you will want to harvest it earlier that you would if the fruit will be used for juice or cider.
See these two posts ( ) for ways to determine when your fruit are mature. The following are tests that are unreliable
Poor maturity tests:
- Days After Full Bloom (DAFB). There are charts of the long term average DAFB that provide approximate harvest dates, but they can be out by 5 to 20 days due to variations in summer weather.
- Calendar date. Unreliable, can vary more than DFFB.
- Fruit starting to fall. Fruit are often over mature by this time and this is confounded by insect damage to the fruit from Codling Moth and Apple Maggots. Any damage to fruit whether by insect, bird or your neighborhood squirrel will trigger the production of ethylene gas, the natural plant ripening growth regulator. Ethylene caused changes in the fruit that result in fruit drop.
- Seeds Rattling in the Fruit. This happens with some apples but is very unreliable for determining maturity. The rattling seeds is caused by growth of the apple ‘cracking’ or pulling apart the 5 points of the calyx that meet at the middle of the apple. The calyx may become a seed rattle in a few very large fruit of some varieties.