Oct 20, 2017
Apple crop forecast in line with averages

This year’s U.S. apple crop is sizing up to be on par with the five-year average, giving industry experts hope for a positive marketing climate.

The forecast for apple production is 248 million bushels, about 8 percent smaller than last year, according to the U.S. Apple Association’s estimate announced in late August at the 2017 Apple Crop Outlook & Marketing Conference in Chicago.

The estimate is only 400,000 42-pound cartons lower than the USDA estimate from a few weeks prior. The USApple forecast of 248,267,000 42-pound equivalents matched the USDA forecast of 248,667,000 boxes.
There is real reason to be optimistic about the 2017 crop due to advances made in the industry in recent years, said Mark Seetin, USApples’s director of regulatory policy and industry affairs, including:

  • The ability to effectively market larger crops
  • Increased productivity
  • Better postharvest management – improved quality
  • New varieties aimed at consumer preferences
  • Innovative marketing programs
  • Export prospects

Overall, the East region is forecast at 8 percent higher than last year, the Midwest 10 percent lower than last year and the West 9 percent lower than last year.

The national breakdown by region was as follows:

West: 170 million boxes, down 9 percent from 2016, equal to the five-year average. Washington, with about two-thirds of the nation’s total crop, is forecast to be down 8 percent at 159.5 million cartons, but remains 1 percent above the five- year average. California is expected to be down 16 percent, largely because growers continue to switch to “mechanized” crops, such as almonds.

Midwest: 24 million boxes, down 23 percent from 2016, 5 percent below the five-year average. That was mostly due to a May 8 freeze in Michigan, impacting the region’s biggest producer. Michigan is forecast at 20.3 million cartons, 12 percent smaller than the five-year average, and 27 percent smaller than last year.

East: 55 million boxes, up 6 percent from last year, 1 percent above the five-year average. Nine of the 11 states that contribute to the forecast for the Eastern U.S. expect to see an increase in crop size, following a year of losses due to drought conditions in parts of the Northeast. The crop in the region’s largest-producing state, New York, is forecast about the same as last year. New York’s crop is estimated at 28 million cartons, 1 percent above the five-year average and nearly the same as last year’s production. Pennsylvania is at 11.2 million bushels. The region’s increase is attributed to New England rebounding from the 2016 drought.

USApple figures include both fresh and processed production.

The international sector checked in with its 2017 crop forecasts.

Mexico: Total of 18.3 million boxes, slightly below the five-year average, is anticipated.

Europe: The outlook is for a 9.3 million-ton-crop in 2017, following 11.7 million tons in production
in 2016. This would be the lowest output since 2007.

China: 45 million tons in 2017, up 2.7 tons from 2016.

South America: Argentina crop of 530,000 metric tons, a slight increase over 2016. Brazil set at 1.2 million metric tons, recovering well from a depressed 2016 crop. Chile will be about 1.4 million metric tons, slightly lower than the previous year.

— Gary Pullano, managing editor





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