Big Gala crop

The Washington State apple industry expects to harvest 107 million boxes of fresh apples this fall, according to the first official estimate compiled in August. That would be a 2 percent drop from last season’s record 109-million-box crop.

The Gala crop will be the largest ever at close to 22 million boxes, up over 6 percent from last year. Production of Cripps Pink, Braeburn, and minor varieties also looks set to increase from last year. However, production of Red Delicious (33 million), Golden Delicious (11 million), Granny Smith (15 million), Fuji (14 million), and Cameo (1 million) are all estimated to be down from a year ago.

New York has average crop

New York apple growers expect to harvest an average size crop of large apples this fall. Abundant rainfall during the growing season helped size the fruit.

The New York Apple Association reports that the state’s crop is estimated at around the five-year average of 29 million bushels. The forecast is determined by a consensus of growers representing six apple-growing regions in the state.

New York produced 30 million bushels of apples in 2004, 25 million bushels in 2005, 30 in 2006, 31 in 2007, and 30 in 2008.

New promotions director

James Michael has joined the Washington State Fruit Commission and Northwest Cherry Growers as ­promotions director.

Michael, 27, grew up on a family juice and wine grape vineyard at Prosser, Washington, and has a bachelor’s degree in international business from Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon.

While in college, he worked during the summers for Holtzinger Fruit Company in Prosser and as a cherry inspector for the Washington State Department of ­Agriculture.

After graduating in 2004, he began his career in the tasting room at Duck Pond Cellars, Dundee, Oregon, then moved to Maysara Winery, a small biodynamic winery in McMinnville, to work in national and international sales. Two years ago, he and his wife, Kristen, moved back to Prosser, where they both worked for Chinook Winery.

At the Fruit Commission, Michael succeeds Andrew Willis, who left to pursue a ­doctorate in economics at the University of Washington.

Latino viticulture program

The Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers is offering a Latino education program for viticulture starting in the fall. Classes will be held every Friday between November and April.

Topics include the history of viticulture in Washington, plant physiology, vineyard establishment, soils, canopy management, plant nutrition, irrigation, personnel management, basic vineyard economics, harvest, English, math, computer skills, and civics.

Tuition is free, but $250 per person is charged to cover two field trips, books, and ­miscellaneous costs.

The course will be presented by Wenatchee Valley College and held at Yakima Valley Community College’s Grandview campus. To register, call (509) 782-8234 or e-mail

Award-winning peaches

Gala Orchards in Elmer, New Jersey, won the 2009 Governor’s Cup at the New Jersey Peach Festival in July, with a box of commercial Redhaven peaches that also were judged best of show. The 74 entries that vied for the award for commercial class peaches were collected from packing houses and storages by Jerome Frecon of Rutgers New ­Jersey Cooperative Extension. They represent peaches as they would be sold to retailers.

Among entries that were hand-selected by the grower for the competition, peaches from Mt. Pleasant Orchards, Richwood, were judged the best.

In the specialty class, Circle M Farms of Mullica Hill won first place for white-fleshed peaches; Nichols Orchard in Franklinville took first in the fuzzless peach category; and Moods Orchards, Mullica Hill, had the largest peach, which weighed 0.97 pounds.