Shippers said July 26 it was too soon to gauge the extent of damage, but many said it could be extensive.
“There’s definitely going to be a reduction in the crop,” said Bob Mast, vice president of marketing at Wenatchee, Wash.-based Columbia Marketing International Corp. “It was a pretty devastating day for growers with orchards in areas that were hit hard.”
Some orchards were hit with hail the size of golf balls, Mast said.
Some fruit was destroyed, but “dings” and other minor damage on many apples could disappear as fruit continues to grow, Mast said.
“An orchard or two” marketed by Selah, Wash.-based Rainier Fruit Co. likely suffered damage, said Suzanne Wolter, the company’s marketing director. Estimating losses as of July 26, however, would be pure speculation, she said.
“I think there was some damage, but I don’t think it would prudent to put an estimate on it,” she said. “We don’t want to overexaggerate or under-exaggerate it. As we get closer to harvest, the numbers will continue to change.”
Prescott, Wash.-based Broetje Orchards escaped with minimal damage, but other Washington growers weren’t as lucky, said Keith Mathews, chief executive officer of Yakima, Wash.-based FirstFruits Marketing, which markets Broetje’s apples.
“The rumors are there are a couple of very large players who were hurt pretty dramatically,” he said.