Washington Picks a Bumper Apple Crop
If the early season projections hold, Washington State apple growers will harvest a record amount of apples, estimated at 140 million boxes. Broetje Orchards expects a large harvest, but not a record crop. As the calendar turns, bringing shorter daylight periods and cooler temperatures, orchard crews can see the end of harvest approaching.
Attention now turns to picking Granny Smith, Fuji and Pink Lady. The list of blocks cleared of fruit grows longer, including Gala, Honeycrisp, Sweetie, Red Delicious and Opal. Overall fruit quality remains very good.
Recruiting and retaining experienced people this time of year is always critical. More than 1,900 people are currently working in the orchard, harvesting apples, rolling bins, driving tractors and loading trucks.
Marketing this bumper crop will be more challenging than in previous years, given large apple crops in other states. This is expected to put pressure on both volume shipments and pricing. The good news is that Washington's apple industry has experienced strong movement to date, shipping nearly 2.5 to 2.8 million boxes each week.
Pricing for this year's crop continues to fluctuate based on variety, grade and size. Some varieties, such as Gala, Granny Smith and Red Delicious are holding a steady price at this early stage. Other varieties are much more price sensitive based on volume and individual fruit size.
For now, the apple industry is building strong momentum. The key will be maintaining that momentum over the long shipping season.
By: Jim Hazen
Prescott Orchard: Our team of over 1,550 employees still need to pick three later varieties of Fuji, Pink Lady & Granny Smith.
Wallula Orchard: Our team of 220 employees are harvesting Opal, Fuji, Braeburn and Pink Lady.
Benton City Orchard: Our team of 135 employees have picked almost every variety except Braeburn and Fuji. Those varieties will be the last this month.