Washington apple growers expect to harvest about 133 million 40-pound boxes — 2.67 million tons — for the fresh market this year, according to the annual forecast released Thursday by the Washington State Tree Fruit Association.
If the estimate holds, the 2016-2017 crop would be the second largest in state history.
The annual estimate, based on surveys from about 50 apple packers, typically shifts as the harvest, which began late last month, stretches through mid-November. It measures the volume of apples packing companies expect to ship for the fresh market. However, changes in weather and global economies can drive that number up or down anytime throughout the next 12 months.
The estimate, equivalent to 2.67 million tons, would come in about 16 percent higher than the 2015-2016 crop of 115 million boxes but 6 percent behind the record 2014-2015 crop of 142 million boxes.
This year, growers expect Red Delicious to remain the top variety with 34 million boxes or 26 percent of the volume, followed by Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith and Honeycrisp.
“Weather in 2016 has been favorable for the development of a high-quality crop with good color and storability. In addition, harvest has begun 1-2 weeks earlier as a result of those conditions,” said Jon DeVaney, WSTFA President. “Washington apple growers expect to deliver a large crop of beautiful apples to consumers this year.”
Washington state produces between 60-70 percent of the U.S. apples.