Richard Lehnert, Good Fruit Grower associate editor, is attending the U.S. Apple Association crop outlook conference in Chicago and wrote a notebook from the first day.

U.S. Apple Crop Outlook & Marketing Conference logo

U.S. Apple Crop Outlook & Marketing Conference logo

It appears most of those attending agree with the USDA crop size numbers. The USApple estimate will be made on Friday at noon EST, and will probably be close to the USDA August 1 figure of 242.2 million bushels.

The Michigan group thinks there will be a few more bushels in Michigan because the crop size is excellent, boosting their numbers to 24 million from 23.7 million.

Roberta Wagner from FDA’s Food Safety Modernization program told growers that the FDA will not use a heavy-handed enforcement model and will attempt to achieve industry adoption by voluntary compliance with enforcement a last resort.

“That model is gone,” she said of the usual inspection-and-penalty FDA process.

Final rules are expected to be published August 31.

Apple growers’ usual protests about apples not needing the same food safety scrutiny as other produce were silent this year following the Listeria outbreak in caramel apples last year that hospitalized 34 and killed 3. Nobody yet knows whether to blame the apples, the caramel, or the combination.

There was a big discussion in a session on apple juice. Weak currencies in Europe and South America have changed the flow patterns for apple juice concentrate.


Richard Lehnert’s updates from the conference will continue tomorrow following the crop outlook announcement.