Michigan’s apple growers are putting some of what they’re calling one of their largest crops to good use.

Many of the state’s apple growers are giving excess fruit to local food pantries and organizations that serve the underprivileged, according to a news release from the Michigan Apple Committee, DeWitt.

Michigan apple growers typically donate about 1 million pounds of apples a year, according to figures from the Food Bank Council of Michigan, but Michigan Apple Committee executive director Denise Donohue said, considering this year’s record production, she was expecting much larger donations.

“In fact, many food banks in mid-Michigan are telling us that they are completely saturated with Michigan apple donations at this time,” Donohue said in the release. “That’s especially good news in these tough economic times when so many people right here in Michigan are needy.”

Michigan is the third-largest apple-producing state in the nation, with an average annual yield of about 20 million bushels. The bumper crop this year is expected to produce about 27 million bushels.

According to Toril Fisher, director of programs and services for the Food Bank Council, 200,000 pounds have been donated since October.

“Fortunately this is happening at the time of the holiday season, and we’re able to maximize our holiday meal boxes for the needy,” Fisher said in the release.

Michigan apple growers donate to food pantries