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Do you grow Pink Lady apples? Ever wondered why sometimes they’re a gorgeous dark pink colour (like the ones above)…

… and sometimes they’re pale?

These two examples (above and below) are both from the same trees, in different years. So, what’s the difference (and no, it’s not a filter)?

Pink lady apples that are pale in colour
Pink lady apples that are pale in colour

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What influences fruit colour?

There are a few factors that determine the final colour of your apples. The main one is the weather, but maybe not in the way that you think.

Usually, fruit needs to get a certain amount of sunlight to achieve its ripe colour. However, in the case of these apples, hot weather can actually bleach the colour out of the apples.

In fact, the best conditions to create vibrant colour are cool nights and mornings. This encourages the apples to turn a lovely dark pink.

But they also need sunlight! If you have a dense leaf cover on your trees, the apples that grow in the shade under the leaves are also likely to be pale.

Apples growing in the shade won't colour up as well
Apples growing in the shade won’t colour up as well

A certain amount of regular sunlight needs to hit the apples during the day for the colour to develop.

This is one of the reasons you might choose to do a bit of summer pruning on your apple trees.

Can pruning help apples turn pink?

Summer pruning will reduce the density of the canopy and allow sunlight to penetrate the whole tree. So yes, it’s a technique that can help with getting fruit to colour up.

Pink lady apples packed and ready to go to market
Pink lady apples packed and ready to go to market

Having said that, it’s not commonly used by home fruit-growers. This is mainly a strategy used on commercial orchards to get better colour in apples. They’re under pressure to provide uniform looking “perfect” apples to supermarkets.

Most home-growers don’t care so much how their apples look as long as they taste great, and so are less likely to prune for cosmetic reasons alone.

Typical home grown apples with spots, blemishes, and uneven colour
Typical homegrown apples with spots, blemishes, and uneven colour

What else affects fruit colour?

The last thing that may affect the colour of your fruit is the cultivar (or specific variety). There are a few different variations of Pink Lady, and each has a different colour profile.

For example, Rosy Glow is a much darker pink colour compared to the more traditional Cripps Pink (the apple most commonly known as Pink Lady), for example, but they are still sold as ‘Pink Lady’.

A bin full of beautiful Pink Lady apples
A bin full of beautiful Pink Lady apples

Getting your apples to look beautiful is a pretty minor problem. It pales into insignificance (boom boom) compared to the many apple-specific problems, pests, and diseases that cause home-growers a lot of grief.

But we love them anyway, and (probably) so do you!

Apple trees are one of the most common fruit trees found in backyards, for lots of good reasons. There’s nothing quite like an apple tree outside the back door.

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