An apple grower has gone viral with images which show ghostly ice fruits hanging from a tree in freezing cold weather.
Andrew Sietsema, from Sparta, Michigan, said the unusual images were the result of rotting Jonagold apples being covered in ice thanks to the freezing rain.
“I guess it was just cold enough that the ice covering the apple hadn’t melted yet, but it was warm enough that the apple inside turned to complete mush,” Andrew told the Press Association.
With no ice formed around the bottom of the apple, the mushy fruit had somewhere to escape when the tree was disturbed.
“When I pruned a tree it would be shaken in the process, and the mush would slip out of the bottom of the ‘ghost apple’,” Andrew said. “Most apples just fell off, ice and all. But quite a few would leave a cool ‘ghost apple’ behind.”
The Press Association contacted a range of horticulture experts to attempt to verify the images, and while some expressed scepticism, others were convinced of their veracity.
Amy Irish-Brown, tree fruit educator at Michigan State University, said: “I’ve seen pieces of the shell left behind, but never the whole apple shell. What a rare event to capture.”
Peter Jentsch, an expert in pest management around fruit and vegetables from Cornell University, said he had witnessed the phenomenon in orchards in the Hudson Valley in New York.
Andrew’s original images were shared more than 10,000 times on Facebook while the pictures earned 75,000 upvotes on Reddit.
“I’m sure you could find them at any orchard on the Ridge near Sparta, or at least any that still had a few unpicked apples hanging on the trees,” he said.
“Jonagolds are one of my favourite apple varieties, but we’ll call these ‘Jonaghosts’.”
- Press Association