Washington Apple Commission international marketing specialist Lindsey Huber told Fresh Fruit Portal 131.9 million cartons were expected to be produced for the campaign that is just getting underway.
She said the figure would mark a 1% year-on-year drop, but would still be the leading production state’s third-largest crop.
Volumes of the Honeycrisp variety are expected to see a significant rise of 25%, while the category that entails all the club varieties – including Envy, Jazz, Kanzi, Ambrosia and Opal – is set for a 26% rise.
Other cultivars forecast to see increases are Granny Smith (11%), Fuji (8%), Cripps Pink (7%) and Golden Delicious (5%).
Red Delicious, the state’s most prevalent apple variety, is set for a 19% year-on-year drop in volume, while Gala, the second-most prevalent, is expected to fall 6%.
Significant declines are expected for Cameo (-24%), Braeburn (-21%) and Jonagold (-16%).
“The apple industry is really driven by domestic demand – two-thirds of production stays within the country,” Huber said.
“So consumer trends and preferences to try something new with these new club varieties is really driving more reds to go into the export markets as the demand for the club varieties increases domestically.”
The new high-density style of planting meant club varieties could increase at a higher rate than the reds decrease, she added.
Huber also noted the harvests were expected to kick off in the southern districts around mid-August, marking a return to more normal timings after the previous years that began early.
Growing conditions have been even better this year than in 2016, she said.
“Last year we had pretty good growing conditions, but there was almost a little bit too much heat which made the size manifest be a little bit larger, so the individual apples were a little bit bigger,” she said.
“This year we had a little bit of a cooler spring, with hot days and cooler nights, which we need to get the size and the color we want in the fruit.”
She said the swing toward the middle sizes was beneficial for sales in the domestic market, which preferred medium-sized fruit, and export markets, which generally preferred smaller fruit.
Domestically she expected relatively good market conditions, noting the industry in Michigan was expecting a reduction in volumes due to some spring frosts.
“The outlook for exports is also pretty good, especially with the sizing being toward the middle,” Huber said.
“Also, with the increase in the proprietary varieties and the domestic demand for them, that means we’ll be exporting more Reds and Galas.”
The total U.S. crop for fresh and processed is forecast to be its fifth-largest in history.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons