The going price for processing apples in Michigan this fall will be at least double what they were last year, and juice apples will bring growers three times as much.
On August 2, the Michigan Processing Apple Growers marketing committee announced it had negotiated a schedule of minimum prices for processing apples with seven processors, with only three others opting out of negotiations, fewer than usual.
The negotiated price for straight loads of juice apples is $22 a hundredweight, compared to $7.50 last year, and was agreed to by the four major buyers.
The negotiated price for Jonathan, 2 ½ inches and up, is $28 a hundredweight, exactly twice the $14 of last year. Similar-size Jonagold, Idared, and Crispin will fetch $27; they were $13.25 last year.
The price for Northern Spy is $26, up from $12.25 last year and the same as other hard varieties like Rome and Golden Delicious. Soft varieties are priced at $23, up from $10.25 last year, and small apples in peeler loads are quoted at $20, up from $6.50 last year.
Dawn Drake, manager of the Michigan Processing Apple Growers, said the crop in Michigan is estimated to be 2.7 million bushels, only 10 percent of last year’s crop.“This is our Hurricane Katrina,” she said.
New York, which endured a similar rash of spring freezes, is expected to produce half or less of its normal 30-million-bushel crop, and Ontario, located between the two states, suffered similar losses and is expecting 20 to 25 percent of a normal crop.
Dry weather this summer is further shortening the crop in the East, from North Carolina and Virginia up through the Great Lakes region.
In Washington, “several hail storms have plagued the apple producing areas,” Drake said. The storms may have reduced the crop size by 10 to 15 million bushels, she said, which will reduce the fresh packout and put more apples in juice and processing.