Though hail devastated the crops of many orchardists in Washington State this summer, the apple industry as a whole is looking for a banner year.
Prices soared towards the end of the 2005-2006, setting a positive tone for the coming season.
“The last twelve weeks of the season have been phenomenal,” said Reggie Collins, general manager of Chelan Fruit Growers Cooperative, a major fruit shipper in Washington. “Every week, the price continued to go up.”
Prices for most varieties began to edge up in May. The average price of Red Delicious rose from about $13 a box in mid-May to $22 by the end of August, according to the Washington Growers Clearing House Association. Similarly, the average price of Golden Delicious increased from around $13 a box in May to $24 by the end of the season. Prices for most varieties followed the same trend.
Dan Kelly, assistant manager at the Clearing House, said the volumes of apples shipped before May exceeded those of the previous season, when the state had a record 105-million-box crop. Even though this was the second-largest crop ever, at 100 million packed boxes, prices went up as supplies decreased.
Collins said Chelan Fruit was fortunate in that it had a large inventory to sell in the last three months of the season, because of the high quality of the fruit harvested in 2005. “We probably had 30 to 25 percent of our Red