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Late summer heat sweetens the Ontario apple crop

September 27, 2023  By Fruit & Vegetable

The sun is sweetening this year's apple harvest. Photo courtesy of the Ontario Apple Growers.

After patchy light frosts in the spring, some growers in the province feared a smaller than normal apple harvest for 2023. But good pollination of spring blossoms and plentiful rainfall have set the stage for a strong apple crop. 

“After a dry start in spring, we had really good moisture over the summer, and the lack of extreme heat in August have combined to make the trees very happy,” said Cathy McKay, chair of the Ontario Apple Growers, which represents the province’s 200 commercial apple farmers.

“Sunshine is what changes an apple’s starch into sugar, so the hot, sunny weather we’re currently experiencing will really increase the sugar levels and help produce some great-tasting apples.” 


This year’s harvest is expected to yield a similar amount to the plentiful crop of 2022. With more new tree plantings coming into production, consumers can expect a good supply of popular apple varieties like Honeycrisp, Ambrosia, and Gala. 

“Don’t forget, apples aren’t just a fall crop in Ontario. Thanks to modern storage technology, apples are kept fresh and available throughout the winter months for us to enjoy,” added McKay.

Ontario farmers grow approximately 15 main varieties of apples along the shores of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Gala makes up 17 per cent of Ontario’s total apple acreage, followed by Honeycrisp and McIntosh at 14 per cent each, and Ambrosia at 10 per cent. 

Sensory research completed by the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre has shown that 89 per cent of Ontario consumers prefer juicy, crisp and sweet apples, and Ontario’s three most popular varieties – Gala, Honeycrisp and Ambrosia – all have those characteristics. The farm gate value of the Ontario apple crop is approximately $100 million, which includes sales to fresh and processing markets as well as on-farm/pick-your-own. 

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