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US (WA): Annual apple storage report released

The state’s apple growers harvested an estimated 150 million boxes this year, a little less than previously predicted. All the same, the 2014 crop easily blows away the previous record of 129 million boxes set in 2012.

Industry officials on Tuesday released the results of their annual storage report, which aims to measure the apple volume in warehouses and controlled-atmosphere facilities throughout the state.

So far, packers have shipped 35 million boxes, leaving 115 boxes currently in storage to fill the market throughout much of 2015, according to the Washington State Tree Fruit Association report. A box, the standard volume measurement, is between 40 and 42 pounds. The storage report follows forecasts in late August and early November based on acreage and yields.

The final tally came in 3 percent shy of the previous forecast of 155 million boxes because of a November freeze and a port slowdown that prompted many packing companies to divert more fresh fruit to processors, said Jon DeVaney, president of the Tree Fruit Association.

A labor dispute between dockworkers and the companies that operate the shipping terminals in Seattle and Tacoma, as well as 27 other cities along the West Coast, has drastically slowed down exports and imports of everything from fruit and airplane parts to clothing and kitchen goods.

In reaction, packing houses in Yakima and Wenatchee have been sending some of their apples to companies such as Tree Top to be made into apple sauce or juice, DeVaney said.

Year-to-year, the state’s apple industry exports about one-third of its fresh crop though overseas promoters and has been trying to bump that up with the large current crop, which will be marketed well into next year.

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