August 02, 2012

Upcoming Apple Season
Already Challenged
by Weather, Shortages


East Coast shortages and spring hail in our state have the potential of making this a challenging season for those who subscribe to the adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

The 2012 apple season has had its share of challenges already, as the states of New York and Michigan are short on apples from the 2011 growing season. This shifted more East Coast buyers to look to Washington for apples over the past several months.

This next season – the fall 2012 harvest – is looking like it will be even tougher. Both Michigan and New York were hit by a late spring frost, which killed the blooms on the apple trees and substantially cut their apple production. I’ve heard figures of Michigan’s crop being down 75 percent to 90 percent, and New York’s being down by 50 percent to 65 percent for the coming apple season.

We won’t know for sure until everything is harvested, but we should expect production far below normal in both states. That will once again force even more demand on the Washington apple crop during the fall 2012 and spring 2013 season.

Washington was all set to have a record crop before it was hit with several June hail storms that inflicted quite a bit of damage.  They won’t know for sure how much damage was caused until harvest, but growers expect that record crop to have shrunk, although it will still be a large crop. Just maybe not “record.”

So we expect Washington to have much higher demand and much higher pricing in the upcoming season as growers try to cover much of the East Coast school and institutional demands, along with the export business. Some suppliers could go to variety rationing next season, which will limit our purchasing options. 

The impacts of the New York and Michigan shortages and the hail damage in Washington are not written in stone or fully known at this point, but it will be interesting to say the least.

On a more positive note, we expect to see our first new crop Gala Apples from Washington to arrive as early as the week of Aug. 21. And, our first look at the Northwest pear harvest projections indicate a larger than normal crop this fall on some varieties. This category may be an excellent alternative! Maybe a pear a day keeps that doctor away, as well.

Have a great day!


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