Harvest has started in Washington state on SugarBee® apples.
“We’re just picking them and we’ll probably finish about 10 days from now,” says Mac Riggan with Chelan Fresh in Chelan, WA. He notes the crop this year looks to be coming in at about 400,000 boxes. “That’s double the cartons compared to last year and we’re planning on having them available at the end of the month or the beginning of November and go to April 2021.”
Riggan says the quality, color, taste and internal pressure of the fruit is all strong, there are a range of sizes available. “SugarBee® don’t grow exceptionally large or small like some varieties. Just a nice range of consumer preferred fruit.” Chelan has the SugarBee® available in 2 lb. Pouch bags in a 27 lb Euro carton and bulk in a 40 lb. box or a 27 lb. Euro box. “We’ll also have a smidge of organic SugarBee® available, but it will go quickly,” says Riggan.
High retail awareness
Riggan anticipates strong demand out of the gate for the SugarBee®. “We’ve had it out for a few years so the retailers know about it. Every retailer that had it last year wants it again,” he says. He notes that while some SugarBee® are sent offshore for export, the fruit commands a premium price domestically. “We sent some SugarBee® to build demand over there but on a percentage basis, the majority is sold domestically. I see a promising future for exports though when we have more fruit,” says Riggan.
Along with the fruit, Chelan Fresh also has a SugarBee® cider available alongside the apples and consumer feedback is that the cider appeals even to those who aren’t apple cider drinkers. “They’ll try it in the store and then walk away,” says Riggan. “Then they do the “four-foot U-turn.” They walk four steps after tasting it and make the U-turn because they like it. You wouldn’t believe how often that happens.”