Aug 3, 2006New York Apple Growers Predict a 25 Million Bushel Harvest
The New York Apple Association (NYAA) announced its annual crop prediction is 25 million bushels for the fall harvest, a crop virtually the same size as last year, with bigger apples on the trees after continued rains and abundant heat.
“We’re looking at a good, solid crop, very similar to last year,” said Ned Morgan, an apple grower from Marion, N.Y., and chairman of NYAA. “I will call it a vintage’ year.”
Apples should be high in quality this year, with good growing conditions throughout the state, growers reported.
“The quality is fantastic,” said Robert Fix, a grower in Hudson, N.Y. “We’re looking at abnormally large fruit size.”
Harvest timing is expected to be normal, with early varieties like Ginger Gold and Paulared to be harvested beginning in three weeks. The harvest will begin in earnest in September when McIntosh ripens. The harvest runs through November with more than 20 commercial varieties to be picked, ranking New York’s crop as the most diverse in the nation.
New plantings of popular varieties are coming into production this season, meaning “hot” apples like HoneyCrisp, Gala and Fuji should be more available. The state’s crop of traditional varieties like McIntosh and Empire also looks promising, growers said.
New York’s crop prediction is one of the most optimistic in the nation, putting the state’s packers and shippers into a strong competitive position. The leading apple producing state, Washington, has experienced significant crop loss this year due to extensive hail damage. The Michigan crop, which ranks number three behind New York, is also reduced because of early spring freezes.
The annual NYAA crop prediction is arrived at by a consensus of growers representing six apple growing districts throughout the state. Other experts who contribute to the prediction include crop advisors, processing apple buyers and Cornell Extension agents. The consensus number was reached during a conference call held July 26.
It is the fourth year in a row that growers will pick a big crop, continuing the rebound from the 2002 crop, which was the smallest in history. Last year’s crop totaled 24.7 million bushels, according to the final tally by the New York Agricultural Statistics Service.
In 2004, growers picked 30.4 million bushels, one of the biggest crops ever. In 2003, the crop was 23.7 million and in 2002’s disaster year, the crop was only 16.1 million.
Bloom and pollination this spring were decent in most parts of the state, except in the Lake Champlain Valley, where excessive rains throughout bloom in May hindered bee activity. Two of the state’s major growing regions – along Lake Ontario and the Hudson Valley – are experiencing outstanding growing conditions.
The state’s most popular varieties are McIntosh, with 19 percent of the state’s total production, and Empire, with 11 percent. Other major varieties are Red Delicious, Rome, Cortland and Idared.
The breakdown of crop utilization is roughly 52 percent for fresh apples sold at retail and 48 percent used for processed products such as applesauce, apple slices, cider and juice.