The Washington apple season is progressing along smoothly as the orchards begin to yield the latter season varieties. September temperatures were cooler and therefore conducive for fruit coloring and maturity. As far as fruit size goes, growers like Evans Fruit Company are noting that there is a spread of all sizes represented, making it difficult to define what the overall size profile is this year.
"Evans Fruit apples generally run heavy to premium grade and this season will be especially so since fruit is clean and high-colored," said the company's Marketing Director. "Cooler temperatures in mid-September assisted color progression and the dry month kept harvest crews bustling. They also expect a nice run of size throughout the year with some lots showing small sizing, others running large and several with a good mix. It’s been difficult to make a definitive statement regarding fruit size this season because we’re seeing a little of everything on the trees and across the line so far.”
Getting into the latter season varieties
The early season varieties have now all been harvested and growers are well into the mid-season apples. It won't be long before the last of the varieties are being picked and the harvest season concludes for the year. Current volumes suggest a lighter year, but growers are confident of ample fruit for the storage crop.
"We starting picking Gala in mid-August, followed by Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp & Jonagold respectively, and we have finished harvest on those varieties," they shared. "We are finished with harvest on those varieties now. We started Red Delicious mid-September, followed by Granny & Fuji. We’ll get into Braeburn and Pink Lady mid-month and we expect to wrap everything up by end of October. Although fruit is picking short of initial estimates the company remains optimistic the higher pack outs will result in a very manageable & successful apple season for all."
Evans Fruit added that consumers have responded well to the early varieties and this was attributed to the consistent color and quality. "Heading in to the home stretch, Evans Fruit Company is confident of the 2018 crop quality," they said. "The first shipments of Jonagold, Gala & Honeycrisp have been well-received in the market with good color, flavor and condition. Fall harvest brings a steady flow of customers anxious to see the new crop and experience the excited seasonal energy. Evans Fruit Red Delicious are especially intriguing due to the consistency of color throughout the picked bin and trees."
Exports looking promising
Despite the cloud hanging over exports to China due to the tariffs, Washington growers are confident that the export season will still be a success. Customers in various countries are making inquiries about Washington fruit. One promising market is India, which saw good growth last year. This year, that country might be an even more promising destination for Washington apples due to the situation in China.
"Export customers are anxiously anticipating the start of the 2018 crop as the majority of the Red crop is destined for world-wide markets," the company observed. "It’s too early in the apple season to assess the Chinese tariff effects but given the current political climate, industry opportunities are questionable. India was a growth market for the state last year and subject to the tariff situation, could continue to yield opportunities for WA apples."