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Washington apple growers may harvest 176.4 million boxes of apples in 2016, according to an estimate released today by the U.S. Apple Association.

If that sounds like a lot, it is.

However, before you get too excited, note a few caveats.

  • That figure is an early estimate made by a few marketing people in the know at a conference in Syracuse, New York, earlier this month. The U.S. Apple Association, the Vienna, Va., industry organization, released the figures from all states a long with the 2015 final totals from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Washington will get a more precise count around Aug. 1 when packing companies turned in statistics to the Washington State Tree Fruit Association, the Yakima group that represents Washington growers.
  • The U.S. Apple estimate includes both fresh and processed apples because everybody else except Washington reports volumes that way. Washington growers typically count only what they expect to be packed fresh, which runs roughly 80 percent of the total, said Jon DeVaney, president of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association. That would bring the 2016 estimate down to 141 million boxes or so, a large crop but smaller than 2014’s record of 141.8 million, which would have been ever larger if not for shipping problems due to labor disagreements at West Coast ports.
  • Meanwhile, U.S. Apple and the USDA shared figures in 42-pound bushels, which would have been 168 million. The Good Fruit Grower took the liberty of converting to Washington’s preferred unit, the 40-pound box.

Anyway, if the estimates hold, Washington would produce 64 percent of the nation’s apples. In 2015, Washington accounted for 68 percent.

To read more estimates and USDA figures, see the chart.


CLICK TO ENLARGE: 2016 Premier cooperative production estimate and final 2015 harvest figures.

CLICK TO ENLARGE: 2016 Premier cooperative production estimate and final 2015 harvest figures.