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Large apple crop forecast

The Washington apple industry expects to harvest a record 108.8 million boxes of fresh apples this fall. That’s six million boxes more than during the 2009-2010 season that just ended, but only slightly more than the 108.3 million boxes shipped two years ago.

“This number, even if it ends up being the biggest crop, is not far off what we’ve been doing for the last five years or so,” commented Dan Kelly, assistant manager at the Washington Growers Clearing House Association. “The industry has adjusted to these big crops pretty well.”

He said some russet on Golden Delicious and Fuji could reduce packouts, but that could be offset by the fact that the August estimate often proves to be slightly below the actual volume shipped.

Volumes of all varieties except Braeburn and Jonagold are forecast to be up from last year. The biggest percentage increases will be Granny Smith (up 13 percent from last season’s 12.7 million boxes) and Fuji (up 12 percent from 13.1 million boxes). Gala volume is forecast to increase by 7 percent to a record 20.6 million boxes.

Red Delicious is forecast to increase this season by 1.5 percent to 35.4 million boxes, which would be the biggest Red crop since 2006. Red Delicious production in the state peaked at 61 million boxes in 1994. The Golden Delicious crop is estimated at 11.2 million boxes, up 7 percent from last year. The largest Golden Delicious crop the state ever produced was 18 million boxes in 1996. Washington’s organic apple crop is estimated at a record 8.6 million boxes, up 46 percent from a year ago.

Pear conditioning standards set

The Pacific Northwest pear industry has adopted minimum standards for the conditioning of d’Anjou pears. Starting this season, all fresh red and green d’Anjou pears sold as “conditioned” must have been treated with a minimum of 100 parts per million of ethylene for 24 hours with an average pear pulp temperature of 65°F before and during enthylene introduction.

This is a minimum standard, allowing shippers the flexibility to exceed the standard as grower lots and the season might dictate, according to information from the Pear Bureau Northwest.

“Conditioned” has been adopted as the official terminology within the industry.  However, when communicating with consumers, terms such as “ripe” or “ripened” might be clearer, the Pear Bureau advises.

The Pear Bureau offers ripening tools and training to retailers, wholesalers, and distributors. For information, call (503) 652-9720.

WTO finds for New Zealand

The New Zealand apple industry announced in August that a World Trade Organization panel had found in its favor in a dispute with Australia. Australia has had a ban on imports of New Zealand apples since 1921. Following numerous efforts by New Zealand to gain access, Biosecurity Australia completed a pest risk analysis in 2006. However, the New Zealand apple industry claimed Australia’s proposed plant quarantine measures concerning fireblight, European canker, and apple leaf curling midge were too restrictive and expensive, and amounted to a trade barrier. It took the matter to the WTO in 2007.

The WTO panel, in its final report, found that Australia’s quarantine measures and its risk analysis report were inconsistent with Australia’s legal obligations as a WTO member and were not supported by scientific evidence. It said there were other, less restrictive measures, such as sample inspections at the border, that Australia could use to achieve an appropriate level of protection.

Parties can appeal the panel’s findings within two months of the release of the report.