(Photo courtesy Stemilt)
There should be plenty of good-quality fresh apples to go around this season as U.S. apple growers gear up for the fall harvest.
Producers at the Premier Apple Cooperative meeting in Syracuse, N.Y., in late June “were very upbeat” about the coming crop, said Mark Seetin, director of regulatory and industry affairs for the U.S. Apple Association. The industry’s first crop estimate of the season was released at the meeting.
U.S. growers expected to produce more than 267 million 42-pound carton equivalents, a 9% increase from the roughly 244 million boxes produced during the previous crop year.
“There are hailstorms, drought and other things that have to be avoided before the harvest, but the prospects are good,” Seetin said.
Apple boards nationwide had positive projections.
California’s crop, which dipped last year because of bad weather, should reach 1.5 million to 2 million 40-pound box equivalents, compared to 1.1 million boxes for the previous year, said Todd Sanders, executive director of the California Apple Commission.
Although the state had a rainy winter and spring, the apple harvest was expected to start in July with galas, as usual, followed by granny smith in August, fuji in September, Pink Lady in October and braeburn and other varieties after that.
Cool weather should bring on good color and size, Sanders said.
California growers do not ship out of storage, he emphasized.
Growers should start harvesting in Michigan about the same time as usual – mid- to late August, depending on variety, said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee.
“I’m hearing good things about this year’s crop so far,” she said in late June.
Last year’s crop was 25 million 42-pound box equivalents, she said. The average crop size is about 25.2 million boxes.
Michigan grows many varieties, including consumer favorites like Honeycrisp, gala and fuji. The state also produces a number of popular club varieties, Smith said.
New York is expecting an “ample crop year,” said Cynthia Haskins, president of the New York Apple Association.
“The 2018 crop year ended up a little higher than we projected, and growers are continuing to predict that estimates will be around 31 million bushels,” she said in late June.
Early varieties will start harvesting in mid- to late August.
New York offers retailers “one of the largest and most diverse arrays of apple varieties on the market,” she said, including SweeTango and favorites like Honeycrisp, gala, red delicious, mcintosh, empire, cortland and more.
The association is debuting new eye-catching tote and poly bags showcasing the new Apples From New York logo, she added.
Washington had a shorter crop during the 2018 season than in 2017 – an estimated 117 million 40-pound boxes compared to 133 million boxes -- said Toni Lynn Adams, communications outreach coordinator for the Washington Apple Commission.
“We can expect some increased volume and a solid crop moving into the new season,” she said in late June.
Red delicious, gala, golden delicious, granny smith, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp and fuji are the top sellers for the data.
And growers are excited about the Cosmic Crisp that will harvest in December for the first time.
“It’s going to be a big impact on our industry in a really great way,” Adams said.