Jun 18, 2009
Growers Look at Bumper Fruit Crops to Sell this Year

No one used the word “bumper” during the 54th annual Fruit Crop Guesstimate June 17 in Grand Rapids, Mich. But if bumper means bigger than usual but not necessarily a record, bumper is the word we’re looking for.

What follows is the situation, fruit by fruit, as it looked to industry members early in the season. Grapes were still blooming and apple thinning was still under way, but frosts were well past and the season for most fruits was shaping up. The whole purpose of the Guesstimate, sponsored by the Michigan Frozen Food Packers Association, is to make an early assessment so marketers can start selling. For a complete breakdown of fruit crop estimates, see the July issue of FGN.

Apples

Crops will be bigger than the five-year average in several states, and overall the U.S. apple crop was guesstimated at 109 percent of the five-year average. The total crop was pegged at 247.5 million bushels.

Growers are concerned about the steep slide in fresh-market apple prices since last fall, and about the inventory of 2008 apples still to be sold.

Blueberries

The national crop, which has been setting new production records year by year, appears to be doing it again. With expected production of 434 million pounds, it would exceed the 2008 crop of 407.6 million pounds by 6.6 percent.

Area by area, production was placed at 97.6 million pounds in the South, 58.1 million pounds in the Northeast, 94.3 million pounds in the Great Lakes area (88 million in Michigan) and 184 million pounds in the West.

Tart cherries

The national tart cherry crop is expected to go above 300 million pounds for the first time in some years.

Northwest Michigan, which had a short crop of 96.5 million pounds last year, will generate 160 million pounds this year, well above the five-year average of 115 million pounds.

West-central Michigan also has a good crop of 60 million pounds. Southwest Michigan will come in with 14.3 million pounds, short of its usual level.

In total, Michigan will produce 234.3 million pounds of the estimated national total of 301.8 million. New York will contribute 8 million, Pennsylvania 3 million, Wisconsin 8 million, Utah 30 million, Washington 16 million and Oregon 2.5 million. Wisconsin, after a bizarre freeze cut the crop to 600,000 pounds last year, is strongly back this year.

Grapes

Michigan’s wine grape production was forecasted to grow 10 percent to 5,200 tons, a mere drop in the bucket on the national scale but indicative of the growth taking place across the country. Just across the border in Canada, the wine grape crop was forecast at 73,000 tons.

Michigan will likely produce a Concord grape crop of 59,350 tons, the second highest in the last 10 years and well above the 45,800 tons produced last year. Niagara production in Michigan was pegged at 25,000 tons, up from 22,000 last year.

Sweet cherries

Last year, the state produced 2.4 million pounds for fresh market, 3.6 million for canning, 18.3 million pounds for freezing and 28.2 million pounds for brining. These numbers are the 2009 Guesstimates: 2.4 million pounds for fresh sales, 3.6 million for canning, 20 million for freezing and 32 million for brining.

The Western crop is large, with 315,000 tons coming from Washington, Oregon and California.

Peaches

Total peach production in the United States was expected to be 1.1 million tons, including both cling and freestone peaches. Michigan produced 14,000 tons of clingstones last year and will produce 19,000 tons this year.

Brambles

The economy has put downward pressure on prices of both blackberries and raspberries, where demand has been rising strongly. In the last two years, the price of raspberry juice has risen from 32 cents a pound to $1.73.

Raspberry production in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia is estimated to be 71.5 million pounds, and blackberries would come in at 43.1 million, both somewhat higher than production last year.





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