The supplies of organic apples from Arizona this season have bounced back to a bumper crop over last year.
“We had a really good start this year with Arizona apples,” says Alejandro Madrigal of Covilli Brand Organics Inc. based in Nogales, AZ. “We haven’t had any issues with people getting sick because our entire harvest and packing crew are vaccinated. Last year we had to stop harvest because we had an outbreak. It basically stopped our season 1/4 of the way through.”
Sizing is on track for Arizona apples with what the state usually produces, which includes a significant number of bag sizes.
At least one variety, Sweeties, has seen volume come on thanks to increased plantings four years ago. On supplies, Royal Galas and Sweeties, which began harvest in August, both had good volumes, though a new partnership with retailer Sprouts Farmers Market has taken all the Sweeties volume this season as part of a program to market local Arizona-grown apples in stores. Fujis, which began harvest this month, have finished due to a rainy summer while Granny Smith has good volume, but the rains have delayed its harvest until next month. Ambrosia began this month as well and has limited supplies. Next month good volumes of Pink Lady come on and in November, limited supplies of Sundowner apples will be available.
Weather has been a challenge in Arizona this season. “In our area in Tucson, this has been the wettest summer on record,” says Madrigal. “And this season was early by about 10 days. We had a cold spell in the spring as well that colored up apples earlier.” However sizing is on track with what the state usually produces which includes a significant number of bag sizes.
Pushing local apples
Meanwhile demand is strong for Arizona apples, particularly following the Sprouts partnership. ”Sprouts is hyper–focused on partnering with local growers to support local agriculture, cut carbon emissions and bring the freshest produce to our consumers,” says Daniel Spivey, regional produce buyer with Sprouts. “We have seen good sales results this season with the Gala and Sweetie varietals and expect these results to continue for the remainder of the season.” And for next season, Covilli is also moving into producing Arizona-branded apple by-products such apple cider vinegars and apple sauces.
Daniel Spivey (left) regional produce buyer and Garland W. Hatfield III (right), sales manager for Covilli Brand Organics.
Covilli does send apples out of state to to California, Oregon, Washington and the Northeastern U.S. region.
Meanwhile pricing is somewhat stronger than last year. “The organic apple is having a deflationary moment. They’re not typically where we see apple sales at and are probably between $10-$12 below average,” says Madrigal. “I’m hoping pricing will stay steady. Typically we see some downward pressure when big volumes come on from Washington, but hopefully we’ll maintain right around where we’re at right now.”