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Red Delicious apples in Wapato, Washington on August 25, 2016. <b>(TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)</b>

Red Delicious apples in Wapato, Washington on August 25, 2016. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

The U.S. Apple Association is forecasting a U.S. 2016 crop of nearly 246 million boxes, a 3 percent increase from 2015 and a 3 percent increase from the five-year average.

The largest portion of the crop will come from the West, forecast at nearly 158 million boxes, an increase of 5 percent from last season.

Growers in Washington, the country’s leading producer of apples, are already running two weeks ahead of harvest, said Jon DeVaney of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association.

The forecast for Washington was reduced somewhat to 149 million boxes from earlier this summer, but after two years of hot, dry conditions, growers are experiencing excellent growing conditions with good size and color, he said.

“Total production may be down, but packouts will be higher,” he said.

The East, where states are suffering under drought conditions, is anticipated to come in at about 54 million boxes, down 10 percent, while the Midwest is forecast at 34 million boxes, up 20 percent from 2015.

Much of that will come from Michigan, where growers are predicting a crop of 31 million boxes, a 31 percent increase from 2015 and a 49 percent increase from the five-year average.