Aug 22, 2011
U.S. apple crop expected to be average this year

The size of the U.S. apple crop in 2011 will be 227.5 million bushels.

That’s the estimate the U.S. Apple Association (USApple) came up with Aug. 19, during its annual Apple Crop Outlook & Marketing Conference in Chicago. USApple’s estimate for this year’s crop is slightly larger than USDA’s estimate of 226.4 million bushels, announced the week before.

According to both estimates, 2011’s crop will be larger than the 2010 harvest of 221.4 million bushels, and should be close to the five-year average of 226.4 million bushels.

East

George Lamont, president of Premier Apple Cooperative, Waterport, N.Y., gave the estimates for the Eastern states. The biggest concern for Eastern apple growers this season was the unpredictable weather.

Whatever kind of weather you wanted – wet, dry, hot – you got it this year, Lamont said.

Weather swings were so wild that, for a time, Lamont wondered if New York would produce any crop at all. Despite the turmoil, however, the state’s 2011 estimate is 30 million bushels, about the same size as the state’s 2010 crop and its five-year average.

Pennsylvania’s 2011 forecast is 10 million bushels, down 15 percent from 2010 and down 12 percent from the state’s five-year average. Virginia’s estimate is 4.8 million bushels, up slightly from last year but below the five-year average, according to USApple.

West

Dan Kelly, assistant manager of Washington Growers Clearing House, Wenatchee, Wash., gave the estimates for the Western states.

Washington state’s 2011 forecast is 129.6 million bushels, down 2 percent from last year but right at the five-year average.

Washington had a cool, wet spring. The Wenatchee and Yakima areas normally get about 8 inches of rain per year, but this season an inch of rain hit within a two-day period. Also, temperatures were about 10 degrees cooler than normal. As a result, the crop was expected to be 10 to 14 days late. That means harvest will end about the middle of November, when freezes become a concern, Kelly said.

California’s estimate is 6 million bushels, down 10 percent from last year and down 21 percent from the five-year average, according to USApple.

Midwest

Mike Rothwell, president of BelleHarvest Sales, Belding, Mich., gave the 2011 estimate for the Midwest states.

Michigan’s 2011 estimate is 26.1 million bushels, a whopping 86 percent above last year’s harvest and 38 percent higher than the five-year average. Michigan’s crop size has fluctuated wildly in the last few years, from 14 million bushels to 30 million bushels – and back down to 14 million bushels again. That “rollercoaster” has forced Michigan apples in and out of markets, contributing to a lack of continuity with customers, Rothwell said.

Michigan’s crop will be three to seven days behind normal. The state started with a cool, wet spring this year, followed by a warm summer beyond the bloom period. There was plenty of moisture – a dry period in mid-July was followed by a storm that dropped 3 to 5 inches, with sporadic rain after that, he said.

Matt Milkovich

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