Apr 10, 2017
Spring snapshot of Northwest fruit production

With a cold, wet winter in the rearview mirror, fruit producers in the Northwest are looking forward to spring and getting back into their orchards. The region’s apple, cherry and pear markets should be profitable for 2017, according to Northwest Farm Credit Services.

Apples – The Washington State Tree Fruit Association’s March 1 Storage Report reveals a Northwest fresh apple crop at 134 million boxes, the second largest crop on record. Crop size for 2016-17 continues to come down from the 137.9 million boxes estimated in December. Crop shrinkage is driven mainly by quality issues associated with early harvest heat and late-season rains. Apple sales are on pace with past years. Headwinds moving forward include sales of traditional varieties facing lower demand and fruit with larger profiles. Northwest FCS’ 12-month outlook for profitability is positive for growers whose varietal mix meets consumer demand. Producers experiencing quality issues and/or those with plantings centered in traditional varieties may struggle.

Cherries – Fewer cherry pests and virus issues, as well as a better-timed harvest, are potentially positive results of a cold Northwest winter. Growing degree days to date are near historic averages, placing forecasts of harvest start dates near mid-June. This favors early-season cherry growers with a supply gap afforded by California, where growing degree days are ahead of normal and an early harvest is expected. A crop size similar to 2016 and expectations for a well-timed harvest support a profitable 12-month outlook for the cherry industry.

Pears – No significant damage is reported after several pear-growing areas in the Northwest experienced negative temperatures this winter. Current pear prices parallel supplies, with d’Anjou prices up on a smaller crop and Bartlett and Bosc prices down on larger crops. Despite slow shipments and weak export markets, Northwest FCS’ 12-month outlook is for stable pear-grower profits, supported by harvest yields, packouts and favorable prices.

Source: Northwest Farm Credit Services

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P.O. Box 128
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