The Washington State apple industry’s December 1 storage report shows that growers ended up harvesting many more apples than they had expected. The final tally is almost 130 million packed boxes, 20 million boxes more than the industry has ever produced before, despite widespread damage from summer hail.
The initial forecast, released in early August, was for 109 million boxes. The projected volume increased to 121 million packed boxes by November 1. The final figure of 130 million boxes was released December 6 by the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association.
Between the August estimate and December’s actual numbers, the Red Delicious crop increased by almost 8 million boxes to 39.2 million boxes; Fuji increased by more than 5 million to 20.8 million boxes, Gala by 4 million to 26.4 million boxes, and Golden Delicious by about 1.5 million to 12.4 million packed boxes.
Jon DeVaney, executive director of the Growers-Shippers Association, reported to the industry that although it is not unusual to see the indicated crop increase from earlier estimates by the December 1 storage report, the trend was particularly noticeable this year. This was due to the overall size of the crop, with later varieties picking out longer than expected, as well as to favorable weather that allowed most of the fruit to be harvested to meet a very strong market with record shipments.
As of December 3, the Washington industry had shipped 31.7 million boxes of apples from the 2012 crop, compared with 26.5 million during the same period in 2011. Exports so far this season are running 21 percent ahead of the previous year.