An apple a day is said to promote good health. It’s worth having your own apple tree in the garden. Now you just have to wait for the apple harvest before the sweet fruit comes to the table.

Recognizing maturity

In the case of apples, the ripeness for picking is not always the same as the ripeness for consumption, this depends entirely on the respective variety .

Definition of ripeness for picking: The point in time at which the apple can be harvested.
Definition of maturity: The point in time when the apple tastes best.

The picking maturity can be determined by various characteristics:

  • brown nuclei in the shell
  • the apple easily detaches from the tree
  • varietal coloring is achieved
  • only summer apples: aromatic taste

It should be noted that not all apples ripen at the same time. If the tree receives a lot of sun from the south, the fruit will ripen faster on that side of the tree than on the north side.

Note: Apples infested with maggots often become unripe and fall from the tree much earlier.

Early varieties (summer apples)

These apples are not called summer apples for nothing. For the 2021 apple harvest, they can be harvested in August or at the latest in early September. The correct harvest time can vary slightly depending on the weather.

The clear apple, also known as the August apple, is one of the earliest apple varieties. It will be ripe at the end of July. If it is harvested later, it is often mealy.

clear apple

More summer apples:

  • Astramel
  • Red
  • Peach red summer apple

Summer apples should be eaten or processed as fresh as possible, they cannot be stored for long. If the harvest is too large, the apples can be processed into applesauce or dried.

Advantage of summer apples: They are ready to eat immediately and storage is not necessary.
Disadvantage: They don’t keep long, quickly become floury and therefore have to be processed quickly.

Mid-early varieties (autumn apples)

The right time for the 2021 apple harvest of autumn apples is between September and October. Depending on the variety, autumn apples can be ready to eat immediately or they have to be stored for a short time. Similar to summer apples, autumn apples do not last long after they are ripe for consumption. Surplus fruit can be preserved by boiling, drying or processing it into juice and jelly.


Typical autumn apples are:

  • Alkmene
  • Holsteiner Cox
  • James Grieve

Advantage of autumn apples: A good compromise between storability and ripeness for consumption.
Disadvantage: depending on the variety, short shelf life or storage location necessary to reach the ripeness for consumption.

Late varieties (winter apples, storage apples)

Winter apples do not owe their name to the fact that they are harvested in winter, but to their ability to keep for a long time. The 2021 apple harvest for stored apples will take place between October and November. The apples must be removed from the tree before the first frost at the latest, otherwise their storage life may be impaired.

Late apple varieties not only have a long shelf life, they even have to be stored for a long time. Many of these apples only achieve their full aroma after several weeks in a dark, cool place. One of the best-known winter apple varieties is the Boskop , which is particularly good for baking.


Other late apple varieties:

  • bell apple
  • Ontario
  • Berlepsch

Advantage of winter apples: they have a long shelf life, usually well into the new year.
Disadvantage: They do not taste as aromatic straight from the tree, so they are less suitable for immediate consumption.

Note: Winter apples are only suitable for the garden if there is a suitable storage location.

christmas apples

A special feature of the winter apples are the so-called Christmas apples, which are small and bright red in color. They are ready for consumption around Christmas, which is why they used to be used as tree decorations. The Roter Eiserapfel variety is one of the apple varieties with the longest shelf life. They should last well into next summer without any special treatment.

Peculiarities of the 2020 apple harvest

The 2020 apple harvest is much smaller than previous years. This was due to frost damage. After the first trees blossomed at the end of March, winter came again and many buds and blossoms froze. What does this mean for the 2021 apple harvest?

Apple harvest 2021

The apple harvest always depends on various factors. If apple trees are already in bloom, severe frost can damage the delicate blossoms, as was the case last year. Considerable crop losses can then be expected. Drought can also put an end to the 2021 apple harvest. If the drought persists, you should water apple trees regularly.

Other influences can also affect the apple harvest. This includes the infestation with pests, the hours of sunshine during the ripening period, the nutrient supply, the right pruning and any diseases. Only healthy, strong apple trees bear plenty of fruit.

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