Because Bigbucks fruit is already a full red apple approximately two to three weeks before optimum maturity is reached, growers can easily harvest too early. Unlike striped Galas where the background colour can be used as an indication of maturity, Bigbucks's full red blush causes the background colour to be virtually invisible.
VERY IMPORTANT: Bigbucks should be harvested on physiological maturity; not on colour. Harvesting Bigbucks fruit immaturely will have a negative impact on both the eating quality of the fruit and will compromise the name of Bigbucks.
It is vital that you determine the starch conversion with Iodine tests (I2) every second day. In a normal season you can start testing at about two to three weeks before the expected harvest. In the Elgin valley, for example, this will be from 20 January but it should start much sooner in the early areas.
Since there will always be varying maturity in individual trees within an orchard, we recommend that harvesting should commence when 80% of the fruit has a starch conversion of between 30% and 50%. This will result in only a small quantity of fruit being immature or over-matured.
If a two-pick harvest is planned, we recommend you do the Iodine tests (I2) on the outside and on fruit in the tops of the Bigbucks trees. When 80% of the fruit reaches a 30% to 50% starch conversion, you can strip these fruits, followed by harvesting of the inside fruit a week later.
Tips for harvesting
- Together with the technical advisor, identify different light environments in the tree canopy – comparable light distribution results in comparable physiological maturity. Base your date of harvest on fruit sampled for maturity from each of these areas.
- North-south facing orchards: sample the tops and sides of the outer canopy together while sampling the inside of the canopy separately.
- Orchards planted east-west: sample the tops, two sides and the inner canopy separately.
- It may be possible to strip pick the Bigbucks trees in orchards with good light distribution throughout the canopy, while orchards with sub-optimal light distribution may require a second harvest.
- Prohexadione-Ca (i.e. Regalis or Kudos) can be used to maintain an open canopy.
Video recorded at Two-A-Day
Very important comparison
|Older Gala strains||The decision whether to pick or not is left to each picker (based on background colour) to decide whether an apple is harvest ready or not. This could leave substantial room for error.|
|Bigbucks||It is the owner, manager or advisor who makes the call on when – and which – fruit should be picked. Handled correctly, you can expect fewer maturity issues with Bigbucks because pickers only focus on picking the fruit correctly and carefully, either on the outside (earlier pick) or the inside of the canopy (later pick).|