New York growers will likely ship about 30 million bushels of apples in the 2011-12 season, similar to last season and close to the five-year average, said Jim Allen, president of the Fishers-based New York Apple Association.
“We had a great set, great temperatures. It’s been a little dry, but we’re starting to get rain now, which could accelerate the crop,” Allen said Aug. 2.
Despite the dry weather, sizing should be decent, Allen said. Abundant sunshine this summer should produce high-sugar fruit.
In the first week of August, right on time, New York growers were starting to pick paula reds, jersey macs and other early varieties, Allen said. By early September, shipments should get underway in earnest.
Demand should be very strong at the beginning of the deal, thanks to lighter import volumes and a late start to the Washington deal, Allen said. Also, McDonald’s announcement that it was including sliced apples in all of its Happy Meals should mean stronger demand for New York apples, he said.
On Aug. 2, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $24-26 for cartons of red delicious 72-88s from Washington, up from $16-18 last year at the same time.
By variety, Allen expects larger volumes of galas, Honeycrisps and empires this season. Empires are a great slicer apple, a perfect choice for McDonald’s and other fresh-cut markets, he said.
Lighter sets this season could mean an apple crop 15% smaller than last year for Gardners, Pa.-based Rice Fruit Co., said John Rice, vice president.
Quality and fruit size, however, should be good, Rice said.
Rice Fruit expects to begin shipping its first variety, ginger golds, the week of Aug. 15, right on time, Rice said. Galas will follow in late August and Honeycrisps in early September.
Rice Fruit expects to ship more Honeycrisps and fewer red delicious this season, Rice said. Gala and fuji volumes should be similar to last year.
As of Aug. 2, little damage from brown marmorated stink bugs had been reported, though there was still a chance of infestations later this season, as happened in 2010, Rice said.
“Growers are more alert to it” this season, Rice said, citing higher insecticide use among Pennsylvania growers this summer.
Rice Fruit Co. lost an estimated 5% to 10% of its fresh-market apples in 2010 to stink bug damage, Rice said.
Michigan volumes should be up significantly from last year and closer in size to the larger-than-normal 2009 crop, said Barry Winkel, general manager of Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Greg Orchards & Produce Inc.
“Driving through orchards, there are a lot of apples out there,” Winkel said.”We’re expecting way more than last year.”
Abundant rain and aggressive thinning should ensure good size, and quality also was expected to be very good, he said.
Growers were harvesting ginger golds the week of Aug. 1, and paula reds and other early varieties were expected to begin shipping in about the third week of August, Winkel said. Red delicious and other major varieties were expected to begin shipping by mid-September.
Fire blight will likely cut into Greg Orchards’ gala and jonagold volumes this year, Winkel said. But he had heard no reports of stink bug.
“Maybe we’ll dodge it again,” he said.