Apples out of New York state look to be slightly up in volume this season.
“Most varieties came back with solid crops, with Honeycrisp being slightly down from last year,” says Kaari Stannard, president/CEO of Yes! Apples in Glenmont, NY. “In addition, we anticipate fruit size to be up one to two sizes on most varieties versus last year due to the summer rain events across the state.”
Chelsea, food safety and grower relations for Yes! Apples out in the orchard. Photos: Katrin Björk.
This is a welcome bounce back given last year the state saw an early frost in its acreage in the lower Hudson Valley. This year’s harvest did also start slightly ahead of average start dates in all New York growing regions.
To date, Rave®, SweeTango®, McIntosh and Gala have been harvested and Honeycrisp, Snapdragon, Red Delicious, Empire and Cortland are currently being harvested. KORU® and Evercrisp apples will be ready in late October. “We’re excited to be offering New York grown RAVE for the first time this season. This is in cooperation with Stemilt Growers, and we’re thrilled to once again partner with them. We also partner with them on SweeTango,” says Stannard.
October picking up
As far as demand, Yes! Apples is heavily weighted to retail. “We expect October to be a significant movement month for apples. Consumers can feel the 'fall' in the air,” says Stannard. Along with moving apples through retail, Yes! Apples is also introducing a new online shop this season.
Also new for Yes! Apples this year is it’s the first year importing organic Honeycrisp from New Zealand. ”Developing an import program based on the popular Honeycrisp allows us to segue from our domestic crop into imports and remain a viable year-round supplier for this important variety,” says Stannard.
Left: Picking apples in the orchard. Photo: Katrin Björk; right: Courtney with Empire Fruit Growers. Photo: Matt Wells.
That said, the season is not without its difficulties. “One challenge that is impacting our business is freight. There has been massive inflation in our shipping lanes. We’re leveraging our volume and consistency of shipping to help limit cost increases, but it’s a difficult battle,” says Stannard. “As in every business, inflation factors into pricing. Labor, freight, COVID, packaging supplies and harvest management tools have all seen significant increases and added to our costs which factors into our prices.”
She also notes that competition is high for pack house labor which are coming from a dwindling population of workers.