Summer weather looks good for the Northwest’s pome fruit growers.
Washington growers expect to harvest 137.3 million boxes of fresh market apples this year, up 18 percent from 2018, according to the first forecast released by the Washington State Tree Fruit Association on Wednesday. The organic harvest is estimated at 18.3 million boxes.
The Pear Bureau Northwest also released a revised crop forecast on Wednesday, coming in at 18.6 million standard boxes. That’s 8 percent higher than its initial estimate in May and close to the five-year average.
“The increase from the initial estimate is due to the fruit sizing up very well in the last two months. Growers are reporting large, beautiful fruit on the trees with sizes that are in demand from retailers in the U.S. and Canada,” Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO of the Pear Bureau, said in a statement.
Summer pear harvest should be starting this week or next.
On the apple front, the forecast is similar to the 2017 and 2016 crops, said Jon DeVaney, president of the Tree Fruit Association.
“WSTFA members are expecting an ample 2019 apple crop with a good mix of varieties for today’s market,” DeVaney said in a statement. “Favorable summer growing weather means that Washington growers are expecting a crop with excellent quality and finish.”
Gala is the top variety, at 23 percent of the crop, followed by Red Delicious, Fuji, and Granny Smith, but the largest growth is in Honeycrisp, Cripps Pink and other varieties.
Where’s the Cosmic Crisp? DeVaney said he’s already gotten that question several times since the forecast was released earlier in the day. The new variety bred and released by Washington State University as the WA 38, to be sold under the brand name Cosmic Crisp, is included in the “other varieties” catchall because there’s no historic data to build on.
“Our usual methodology doesn’t work with a crop that’s launching this big out of the gate,” he said.
They plan to track the variety separately going forward, he added.
—by Kate Prengaman