CHICAGO ⁠— The red delicious apple has finally tumbled from the top spot of U.S. apple varieties, according to the latest forecast from the U.S. Apple Association.

At the 2019 U.S. Apple Association’s Marketing and Outlook Conference on Aug. 22, gala production was pegged at 50 million (42-pound) cartons, easily above the 45.82 million carton output of red delicious. The varieties traded places compared with 2018 output numbers when U.S. Apple ranked red delicious at 50.26 million cartons and gala at 47.4 million cartons.

Red delicious output has dropped by 30% — or nearly 20 million cartons — from 64 million cartons in 2014
The overall U.S. Apple crop was estimated at 247.77 million cartons in 2019, down 2% from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s August crop estimate of 253.1 million cartons and up 1% from the 2018 crop of 244.2 million cartons.

The red delicious variety is still an important variety for export markets, said Mark Seetin, director of regulatory and industry affairs for U.S. Apple.  However, based on the percentage of red delicious in storage as of June 1 this year, Seetin said that the industry may still be growing 10 million to 12 million cartons more red delicious than the market is demanding.

Both Red delicious and golden delicious output is declining, Seetin said. In 2000, the two varieties accounted for 57% of U.S. production, he said. Today, reds and goldens account for 25% of total output and that percentage is going down.

Honeycrisp is quickly climbing the ranks of U.S. apple varieties, Seetin said. Production in 2019 is pegged t 24.7 million cartons, up from 21 million cartons last year and 14 million cartons in 2014..

For 2019, U.S. Apple predicts Honeycrisp production will easily surpass golden delicious and isn’t far from overtaking the fuji and granny smith varieties. Honeycrisp is soon likely to be the third biggest variety by volume, Seetin said.

Leading U.S. apple varieties for 2019, with percentage change compared with 2018:

  • Gala: 50 million cartons, up 5.4%;
  • Red Delicious: 45.8 million cartons, down 9%; 
  • Fuji: 25.14 million cartons, up 11%;
  • Granny smith: 24.68 million cartons, up 15%;
  • Honeycrisp: 24.84 million cartons, up 18%; and 
  • Golden delicious: 16.54 million cartons, up 6.4%.


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