Apple Crop Update
August 17, 2012
This year is one for the books. Crazy weather around the globe has caused massive shortage in local apple crops in the Midwest and Northeast and Europe while the weather in Washington has been ideal – mostly. Just when you think things are going your way in the growing business Mother Nature reminds you that she’s still in control. Until July 20th Washington state was expecting the largest crop ever, by a 20 million box margin, then a large weather system packing serious hail stepped in to reduce it to being the second largest crop ever. We are working on plans to make this still-large crop cover an above average demand for an entire year. Here are some details about what we know.
The official August estimate of the 2012-13 Washington apple crop is in at 108.7 million boxes. This could swing by 4-5 million boxes either way depending on what we find once harvest starts, how the market reacts to hail, and how much demand there is from the processor markets. There are too many variables to be certain about anything right now, but we feel the crop estimate will grow rather than shrink as we move through the year.
All apple varieties were affected but Red Delicious was hit especially hard due to a couple of very large orchards taking the brunt of the weather hit. Gala was also reduced compared to last year. Those two crops are down 5.4% and 4.2% versus last year, or 1.8 million and nearly 1 million boxes respectively, while all other varieties are up.
Due to this year’s excellent growing conditions which began last fall, the fruit that wasn’t affected by hail is some of the best we’ve seen in recent history. Large fruit with ideal color, shape and eating quality. This is truly a “vintage” crop year for fruit; beautiful and flavorful.
We will be working to retain our traditional shelf space despite the shortfall in the U.S. crop. This will require hard work and modification of expectations, but with our retail partner’s assistance apples will remain number one in the fruit category producing 16% of the category dollars during the fourth quarter.
We are happy to report that harvest has officially begun with Ginger Gold apples being packed this week and Gala starting this weekend. We’ll keep you up to date as we learn more. Stay tuned…