Aug 9, 2012Hail lowers Washington crop estimate
With Midwest and Eastern apple crops down this year, the saving grace for the industry was expected to be a bumper crop out of Washington state. That crop, however, was damaged by July hailstorms that cut through the state’s apple-growing areas like a scythe.
Even after the hail, however, the state was projected to have its second-largest fresh apple crop ever, at 109 million boxes, said Jon DeVaney, chairman of the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association.
The hail affected perhaps 20 percent or more of the apple crop across the state, said Jim McFerson, director of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.
“It has reduced the anticipated fresh-market crop from a projected record-breaking mark to a more ‘normal’ season,” McFerson said. “And of course, we still have many weeks to go!”
DeVaney said the damage was the greatest in the lower to middle Yakima Valley, southern Grant County in the Columbia Basin and in Okanogan County in the north.
It looked like Reds, Gala and Braeburn suffered the largest reduction, said Charles Pomianek, executive director of the Wenatchee Valley Traffic Association.
There certainly will be parts of the total crop that will meet all industry grade standards, Pomianek said. The industry will most likely harvest a crop closer to the average size of the last three years, as opposed to a record.
“This will help to fill the void left by significant crop losses in the Eastern U.S. and Canada,” DeVaney said. “It will still represent a smaller national crop, which should translate into strong demand and pricing for Washington’s apple industry.”
– Derrek Sigler