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Honey Crisp, Gala and Empire consumers' favorites

New York crops rely more heavily on export

New York orchards have begun harvesting their apples and growers are expecting a higher than average yield again this year. “We predicted as much as 30 million bushels by the end of July,” states Julia Stewart, spokesperson for the New York Apple Association, “By comparison, in the five years prior to 2012, the crop averaged 29 million bushels.”

This of course excludes the 2013 yield which was 32 million bushels after a devastating frost which killed off half the crop in 2012. “The trees stored all their energy and carbohydrates over the 2012-2013 winter to come back big last fall.”

However after such a great harvest in 2013, growers expected a smaller yield. “It’s just tough to do that two years in a row, in part because of the biennial nature of some varieties.” That said, growers have also been placing emphasis in recent years on increased planting, which produces more fruit. “We are listening to consumer demands and planting more their favorites like Honey Crisp, Gala and Empire.”

By increasing their acreage and planting smaller-footprint trees more densely, trees hit bearing age sooner; trellising techniques help the fruit to receive more sunlight which allows them to achieve better color. “These increased plantings result in larger crop over the years.”

The New York Apple Association promotes all growing methods, conventional and organic. “It’s very difficult to grow organically in the Eastern part of the United States,” explains Stewart, “There is too much moisture which triggers disease and pests.” Instead the association encourages increased consumption of all apples by educating consumers about the industry and its production practices and products as well as giving the growers the tools they need.

The U.S. industry relies heavily on exporting, as about twenty-five percent of the national apple crop is exported. “This plays an important role in relieving the pressure of domestically marketing the crop,” says Stewart, “Ten percent of the apples grown in New York State are exported mainly to the United Kingdom. As the crop sizes increase, we will rely more heavily on exporting.”

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