Jul 6, 2017
2017 Fruit Crop Guesstimate shows frost impact

The 2017 Fruit Crop Guesstimate, presented by Fruit Growers News and the Michigan Frozen Food Packers Association, offered a new educational experience for processors, growers, wholesalers and retailers. This year’s Guesstimate was provided through a webinar platform, covering expectations for tart cherry, sweet cherry, apple and blueberry crops.

Antonio Leduc, vice chair of the Michigan Blueberry Advisory Committee (MBBAC) began the 62nd Annual Fruit Crop Guesstimate by discussing the impact early frost had in Michigan.

Blueberries

“The southeast was hit with a huge frost March 16 and March 17,” Leduc said. “It put a big hole in the fresh market as far as blueberry, and where Michigan is going, it looks like demand is going to exceed supply.”

High Bush Production Midwest, Northeast and Southern District 2016 and 2017 Guesstimate

 

Last year the Michigan blueberry industry estimated a crop of 100 million pounds and came in at about 101 million. For 2017, the estimate is at 103 million pound crop, which Leduc said was, “as of this point, a little optimistic.”

“I still think it can be done if we have good labor. It seems like labor was adequate in North Carolina and Georgia. I’m getting mixed reports on New Jersey. But if we get adequate labor in Michigan, we have the potential to reach that estimate.”

Cherries

Mollie Woods, executive director, Cherry Industry Administrative Board, said frost and cold temperatures also had an impact on Michigan tart cherries and sweet cherries.

Michigan growers are expecting a smaller crop due to freezing temperatures in early May and poor pollination conditions. West Central Michigan was hit especially hard by low temperatures. The estimate for West Central Michigan is 26 million pounds.

“The potential for a much bigger crop is there, but they were hit pretty hard by frost,” Woods said.

Other areas in West Michigan seem to be doing a bit better than the central area. Northwest Michigan is down slightly from last year after also experiencing some frost. Although the crop seems to be growing from early estimates, according to Woods. Southwest Michigan is looking good at an estimate of 28 million pounds.

The industry’s total U.S. crop estimate is at 259 million pounds.

Crop estimate from Cherry Industry Administrative Board meeting on June 22, 2017.

“This is pretty much an average crop in tart cherries if you look at it over time,” Woods said. “But compared to last year, it’s not average. We processed a total of 314 million pounds last year, which was more than we had at least in the last five years.”

New York’s 2017 estimate is down a little bit from the 10 million pound estimate last year. Wisconsin cherries suffered from the same frost impact as Michigan. Utah didn’t have the same experience, but Utah cherries suffered cold and wet weather during pollination so that estimate is down to 26 million for this year.

Early frost hit Michigan sweet cherries much harder than tart cherries, according to the Michigan Cherry Committee. For 2017, Michigan estimates production is 21 million pounds. Some growers are expecting 50 percent of a crop or less. For perspective, last year the sweet cherry industry harvested 43 million pounds; the four year average is 43.6 million pounds.

The USDA forecast is at 37.5 million, but that data was collected early on in the season. The USDA crop forecast for all regions is 865.5 million pounds. All production regions, except for Michigan, are forecast to be up this year.

Apples

The apple industry is feeling optimistic about the size of this year’s crop and will be led by a potentially record-setting crop in Washington, according to Mark Seetin, director of regulatory and industry affairs at the USApple Association. He estimates the 2017 U.S. apples crop will come in at about 256 million bushels, which is 3 percent above the 5-year average and 6 percent greater than last year.

As with cherries and blueberries, Michigan apples were damaged by frost.

“Growers felt that the frost that happened in the spring took maybe 30 to 40 percent of the apple production,” said Seetin. “That led to a consensus of the group that the estimate would be about 20 million bushels.”

Other states in the Midwest seem to have good conditions to reach average estimates. Out west, the 2017 Washington state apple crop is estimated at 165 million bushels. . The final figure by the USDA for the 2016 crop came in at about 174 million bushels – a new record for production in Washington.

A recording of the live Fruit Crop Guesstimate webinar presentation is available on the Fruit Growers News website, under the Resources tab. Register here to view the recording: http://fgnews.wpengine.com/edwebinar.

Ana Olvera, digital content editor

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