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Early start for Pacific Northwest apple crop

New-crop apples have begun already in the Pacific Northwest.

“We have apples earlier than expected--we’re early by at least two weeks,” says Jeff Aguigui of Ag Grower Sales LLC in Wenatchee, WA. “It’s because of the heat wave in June. The apples matured a bit quicker because of that heat so it was almost like a rapid growing season.” He also adds that nighttime temperatures didn’t cool as well and that in the last three months, temperatures were still sitting at 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit at 6 a.m.

This is on a crop that’s estimated to be slightly larger than last year’s by a few million boxes--as high as 124.5 million is estimated at this point. Aguigui notes that Ag Grower has started with Royal Gala apples as well as new crop Bartlett pears, Golden Delicious, Ginger Golds and Honeycrisp.

However what remains to be seen is how the quality of the apples fared given that heat. “As far as the actual size of the fruit, that’s where the heat and size come into consideration. It’s 88s and 100s that we’re peaking on size wise,” Aguigui says. “There’s not a lot of big fruit and I think we have a lot of very small fruit which may go to institutional programs such as schools, military, etc. I just don’t think there is going to be a lot of big fruit this year. But it’s also happening on other produce items here. It’s not just on apples.”

Larger late varieties
Later varieties such as Granny Smiths of course are anticipated to size up larger. “We’ll get bigger sizes as we go along in the season,” says Aguigui.

And to meet this crop is very high demand on apples. “This is the first time I’ve seen in awhile that we’ve gapped on Granny Smiths and Golden Delicious. It was very unusual. There are just no apples available. There are certain sizes that are just not out there and they’re having to move to a certain size because of the variety.” He says as well that swaps are having to be made to to cover orders--think the tart Pink Lady apples in place of Granny Smiths. “We’re lucky to have something else available. Varieties such as Red Delicious and Fujis are available but that’s about it. Everything else we’re out of so thank goodness we’re starting a new crop,” he says.

Not surprisingly pricing has started the season out higher than historical levels--also because pricing is incorporating skyrocketing freight rates. “But it’s starting to level out. Pricing has come down to start normalizing,” Aguigui says.

For more information:
Jeff Aguigui
Ag Grower Sales, LLC.
Tel: +1 (509) 886-7016  

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