Washington apple crop could be down by ten percent

Early predictions are pointing to a moderately reduced apple crop in Washington this upcoming season. Post-bloom assessments are showing bud reduction by as much as ten percent, with certain varieties affected more than others. Despite this, growers are expecting that harvest will commence on time.

"All the orchards have passed the blossom season and already have their fruit sets," explained Chuck Zeutenhorst of FirstFruits Marketing of Washington. "When calculating the yield expected for the season, growers assess the trees before and after the bloom. This year, the return bloom wasn't as heavy, meaning it did not create the number of fruit sets as we expected. Therefore, it's looking like next season's crop could be down by as much as ten percent."

"The variety with the greatest change in return bloom was Granny Smith, and we predict a likely deficit for next year," he continued. "The harvest typically starts in August and it should be pretty normal timing for the most part. The first apples will be the early Golden varieties, but the earliest high volume variety will be the Gala."

Good amount of fruit still remaining in Washington
Movement has been such that there is still a good amount of apples remaining in storage in Washington. A number of varieties appear to have exceeded their outdates, but suppliers are skeptical whether the numbers are reflecting an accurate amount, given the general market conditions. 

"The state as a whole has been shipping at levels that would leave a fair amount of fruit remaining," Zeutenhorst observed. "Right now, it appears there is quite a bit of carry over, especially on varieties such as Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, Gala and Honeycrisp. However, inventory numbers do not take into account the level of repacking, and we suspect there has been a lot of that towards the end of the season. The way things are going in the market, and the general feel of it, leaves an impression that there may be less fruit around than is suggested."

Zeutenhorst added that FOBs are still strong on a number of apple varieties and have in fact risen in some cases. Sizing has also played its part. "On certain varieties, we are starting to see stronger FOBs in recent weeks" he said. "Both Golden and Red Delicious are fairly strong. It was also a unique year in that the physical size of the fruit was smaller than usual. There was a greater discrepancy between the larger and smaller sizes and as a result, we are currently seeing good FOB strength on larger sizes across all varieties."

Opal apple production set to substantially increase
Not all varieties are facing a decrease in numbers this upcoming season. One of these is the Opal apple. Opal is a proprietary apple for FirstFruits, who are the exclusive suppliers for it in North America. The company said that overall production will significantly increase this upcoming year, with organic seeing an even larger increase. 

"It looks to be a great year for the Opal apple and we expect a 20 percent increase in production for next season," Zeutenhorst shared. "On the organic side, there will be a 300 percent increase in production. Many of the newer varieties are bi-color, but the Opal has the uniqueness of being strikingly yellow. It's a very hard and crisp apple and it also has non-browning characteristics, which are entirely natural, because the apple is not genetically-modified. We're very excited for the prospects for Opal this year."

For more information:
Chuck Zeutenhorst
FirstFruits Marketing of Washington
Tel: +1 (509) 853-4710

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