Indiana has approximately 4000 acres of apples, with annual production of about 1.2 million bushels (42 lb units). National apple production is 250 million bushels, with about half of that being produced in Washington state. Indiana ranks 15th in production. Apples are produced throughout the state, with no real concentration of production, although farms tend to be located near population centers. The most popular varieties are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Gala, Rome and Fuji, which together comprise 70% of the trees in the state. The other 30% of trees is made up by some 95 other varieties.
Most orchards are small (<30 acres of apples) although there are a handful of larger operations (>100 acres). While some apple acreage in the state is still planted in older style trees on vigorous rootstocks, there is widespread adoption of semi-dwarf rootstocks and more innovative growers are now planting dwarf trees. These are especially suited to U-pick operations as the use of ladders is not necessary. While apples are fairly tolerant of cold temperatures during winter, they are susceptible to frosts while the flowers are out in the spring. In some years this can result in total crop loss. Apples are attacked by a myriad of pests and diseases, the most serious of which are fireblight, apple scab, plum curculio and codling moth.
Most apple orchards sell their crop directly to the public through on farm markets or community farmers’ markets. Apples are a symbol of fall to many people, and a farm market draws customers not only to purchase apples, but also cider, other fruits and vegetables, and various preserves and the like. A number of growers have discovered they can sell not only the product, but also the farm experience and activities such as petting zoos, corn mazes and school tours not only attract more customers, but also provide additional profit centers.