The association’s executive director Todd Sanders said California volumes are forecast up slightly year-on-year at around 3 million boxes in total.
He also voiced concerns about the potential market ripple effects of tariffs numerous countries have implemented this year on U.S. apples.
Harvesting started at the end of July with the early Gala varieties and is now moving from the last of the Granny Smiths into Fujis.
“Volume is about what’s to be expected. The color looks good and the sizes are all good – they’re a bit smaller on average than what we would normally get, but actually the season’s going along really well,” Sanders told Fresh Fruit Portal.
“The movement has been a little bit slower than what we’d normally hope for, but that has to do with a lot of the retailers still buying year-old crop from Washington.”
The U.S.’s leading apple-growing state produced one of its largest-ever crops during the 2017-18 season, with more than 142 million cartons of fresh apples forecast in December.
California ships all of its apples after harvesting in order to take advantage of the four-to-six week window it has until Washington volumes ramp up.
California Pink Lady harvests are due to start around mid- to late October and wrap up by the end of November.
Sanders said that around 20% of the California apple crop is typically exported on a normal year, but he expected this year a high proportion could end up in the domestic market.
China has significantly increased its tariffs on U.S. apples, while Mexico has set a 20% duty and India is threatening to impose additional tariffs later this year.
“There will be a ripple effect. If China puts tariffs on U.S. apples then the 10-12 million boxes that would normally go there … will now have to find another home, whether it be in Southeast Asia, Canada, Mexico, or even the domestic market,” he said.
This could influence California’s shipping capabilities and force them to find other markets, he said.
Sanders also welcomed the recent news that the U.S., Canada and Mexico have reached a new trade deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).