U.S.: FirstFruits expects "great" apple season
FirstFruits Marketing of Washington is anticipating a great apple season with increases in overall volume and size for all crops including proprietary varieties Opal and Sweetie.
FirstFruits represents Broetje Orchards, a leader in Washington organic apple production, as well as Congdon Orchards.
In a release, the company said "nearly textbook growing conditions" and an early spring bloom means harvests started at the end of July, which is ahead of normal timeframes seen during past seasons.
FirstFruits general manager Chuck Zeutenhorst said the average fruit size would be slightly larger this season and the overall state crop was expected to reach between 135 and 140 million fresh cases.
"It won’t be a record-sized crop from Washington, but a large crop nonetheless," Zeutenhorst said.
"We’ll need lots of ad support concentrating on premium grade fruit, 88’s and larger."
Organic tonnage at FirstFruits will increase this season by 15%, concentrated around the varieties seeing the most consumer demand including Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Opal.
“Our organic program is our real ‘sweet spot’ and we’ve invested heavily in making that a focal point of our operation," he said.
"We’ll continue to expand our organic production to meet consumer demand and remain in the forefront of organic farming practices and varietal development."
Sweetie, which is an early exclusive variety for the company, will start shipping on Sept. 5.
Known as Gala’s sweeter, crunchier cousin, this Braeburn and Royal Gala hybrid is intensely sweet and juicy with a crunchy texture and is only available for a limited time.
Opals will return to the market in October, with supplies expected to last through May 2017.