Each year at this time, we are always asking the same questions: how’s the crop, any damage, will the inventories be manageable by fall, and—most of all—what do you think the market will be? Each year at this time, we answer, “If I knew that, apples would not be my game.” Across our state, unusually early spring warm weather, followed by normal cold weather, at the wrong time, have apple growers wondering, guessing, and hedging on what the crop will be.
We hear the same comments across the state, from “I froze out,” to “some damage,” to “none” at all. This week, hot temperatures have prevailed across the growing area, and the thinning process is taking place. So, if you are looking for insider trading information on the 2010-2011 New York apple crop, stay tuned, the jury is deliberating.
But, besides the crop, other concerns are evident. New York’s largest apple processor, Mott’s, is currently experiencing a labor strike, which is affecting their production at the Williamson, New York, sauce and juice plant. All of Mott’s apple sauce is made at this facility. Mott’s, being the largest single buyer of New York apples, and one of the largest employers in the apple-growing region of western New York, is the foundation of our industry. With over 300 jobs on the line, and as a major contributor to the upstate economy, as well home to 7-million bushels of apples, our industry is watching every move as this develops.
Finally, looking ahead at a much larger picture and trying to access the fall market based on a sluggish economy, watching an unstable and unsettling processing market, trying to get a grip on the increasing domestic production, and expanding export markets to help the domestic market, are all factors to consider. Now, throw in issues like oil slicks, Wall Street, an unstable European economy, North Korea, Chinese apple concentrate, Chinese fresh apples all over the place, and last, but not least, labor shortages and possible political power swings in Washington, D.C., we certainly have enough concerns to go around.
Hard to say which scenario will shape 2010-2011 the most or least, but suffice it to say that with a list that long, this coming season brings concerns! Hope you had a happy Memorial Day, and that you remembered to honor those who have given the most to allow us the right to spew our opinions across our great land.