Apple growth stages for Peach Ridge area

A summary of past growth stage development on McIntosh apples since 1976 for the Peach Ridge MSU Enviro-weather station.

Since 1976, the growth stage development for McIntosh apples has been recorded for the Peach Ridge MSU Enviro-weather station (Sparta). The date of green tip and full bloom has shifted each year with the considerable variations of winter and spring weather. In the late 1970s, the average green tip date was April 15 and average full bloom date was May 12. As of April 1, 2014, both growth stage events have advanced by 10 and seven days respectively, to April 5 and May 5. Both these advancing growth stages mean growers will face more frost events during early critical susceptible stages.

The latest date for green tip was May 3, 1978. That year we had a big crop of 22 million bushels produced in the state, 120 percent of a normal crop. Full bloom in 1978 was on May 24, but that was not the latest full bloom date. 

In 1997, full bloom occurred on May 25, the latest full bloom date in the records since 1976. We produced 24 million bushels of apples, a fairly normal crop for that time period. The 1997 season was also the longest spring in the records. It took 50 days to advance from green tip to full bloom, nearly twice the average number of 31 days for a normal year.

The shortest time between green tip and full bloom was in 1985 when much above-normal temperatures caused tree growth to move from green tip to full bloom in 17 days. The 1985 crop was another big crop of 26 million bushels, 120 percent of a normal crop. 

Even the early, warm 2012 season moved at a steady pace taking 30 days from green tip to full bloom, except it started 30 days earlier than normal. The 2012 season was the earliest green tip and full bloom date on March 15 and April 16 respectively, both occurrences about a month ahead of normal. 

This year’s very long and cold winter will most definitely bring a late spring and perhaps a late bloom.

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