Despite a report in the trade press that China has reopened its market to U.S. apples, apple industry leaders said the market remains closed.

“The market is not open,” Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association, N.Y., said in a Sept. 23 e-mail. Allen said it was premature to talk about market access with China yet.

Chinese officials have been in Washington and in New York state during September, touring orchards and talking to U.S. apple industry, several industry leaders reported.

Regaining access to the Chinese market remains a work in progress, said Mark Powers, executive vice president with the Northwest Horticultural Council, Yakima, Wash.

“If somebody wanted to get a phyto right now to export to China, they couldn’t get it,” he said.

No official confirmation of the report has come from the U.S. government, he said.

Chinese officials visiting the U.S. had no knowledge or confirmation of the Sept. 23 Fresh Fruit Portal report, Powers said.

Historically, three states had been approved for shipping red and golden delicious apples to China, Powers said but only exporters from Washington state have exported the apples there.

“The Chinese are here trying to work things out with (the U.S. Department of Agriculture) and hopefully that will happen, but I think we are still frankly a couple of weeks for knowing for sure what exactly is going to happen,” he said.

China suspended access for Washington red and golden delicious apples in August 2012 because of phytosanitary issues related to postharvest disease and decay, closing the door on what had been an expanding market for U.S. apples.

Chinese apple growers are seeking to gain access to the U.S. market. The USDA published a proposal in July that would allow Chinese apples in the U.S., and USDA action on that issue is pending.