U.S. apple crop down
Frost and hail hit orchards in New York and Michigan.
U.S. apple growers expect to harvest 207 million bushels this fall—5 percent fewer than last year. That would be the smallest crop since 2002 and the second smallest since 1986.
At the U.S. Apple Association's Outlook Conference in Chicago, Illinois, in August, representatives of the Michigan and New York apple industries reported shorter crops. Hailstorms hit Wayne County, New York's largest apple-producing county, in June and July, damaging more than 6 million of the 17 million bushels of apples that would normally go to the fresh market. Overall, New York's production will be down 25 percent from last year, according to a report of the conference from USApple Chair Bruce Grim of Washington.
Michigan was expecting to harvest 12.5 million bushels, a 32 percent drop from last year that is attributed to frost and hail. Pennsylvania's crop is forecast down 13 percent from a year ago, while Virginia's crop should match last year's.
On the West Coast, Washington's total fresh and processed crop is estimated at 122.1 million boxes, almost the same as a year ago. California production continues its steady decline, dropping to 7.6 million boxes this year, down from 25 million in 1994. Apple production in Oregon is expected to jump to 4 million boxes, an increase of more than 25 percent from last year.
Canada expects to harvest 21.2 million bushels of apples, down 19 percent from last year. British Columbia's crop will be down by 34 percent, with Gala and Ambrosia taking significant hits, according to Grim. However, McIntosh still accounts for more than a third of the Canadian crop.
Mexico's production is forecast at 19.9 million bushels, down 4 percent from last year, though the quality is reported to be high. Improved storage facilities should allow for steady movement to market and more stable wholesale prices, Grim reported.
Though there was not yet an official forecast of the China crop, it is expected to be a normal crop, up about 15 percent from last year's 24 million bushels. Although acreage in China is declining, productivity is increasing. About 61 percent of the crop is sold fresh, 34 percent is processed into juice, and 5 percent is dried or canned.
Total production in the European Union will be up 14 percent from last year's relatively low production. Production in western European countries continues to decline, while eastern European countries are producing more apples.
Grim concludes that Washington State should be in a dominant marketing position this season, given the smaller national crop. The weak dollar should allow for strong export demand, although the U.S. economic situation is a concern. The key will be for the industry not to become "mesmerized" by the very high price levels at the end of the 2007-2008 season and to find price levels that will drive momentum so weekly target shipment levels can be achieved, he said.