USDA's apple report still on chopping block

01/26/2012 07:37:00 AM
Tom Karst

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has reiterated its intentions to cut certain fruit and vegetable reports, and despite ongoing talks with the apple industry, the annual August apple report is still on the chopping block.

The apple report, the first season estimate of national apple production, is used by the U.S. Apple Association as a basis for its own forecast at the annual Apple Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference, set for Aug. 15-16 in Chicago.

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, which issues fruit and vegetable reports throughout the year, will still release an October apple production update, the USDA announced Jan. 25.

Since discovering in early January that the August reported had been cancelled, leaders of the Vienna, Va.-based apple association have been seeking its reinstatement.

“We’re still talking to (the apple industry) but that’s where things stand as of today,” said Lance Honig, chief of the crops branch at USDA’s NASS, on Jan. 25.

In early January, U.S. Apple Association president Nancy Foster said the group’s August outlook conference will not be affected. As always, state and regional apple associations will prepare their own estimates before the conference; the USDA’s figures are used as a benchmark to fine-tune the national association’s forecast.

Other reports nixed

Early season and in-season reports for more than 10 other fresh produce items also have been dropped by the USDA, as cost-cutting measures.

Though some of the cutbacks had been previously announced, Honig said the agency issued the comprehensive notice Jan. 25 to make sure all interested parties knew the complete list of changes.

According to the release, changes affect the 2012 growing season; all reports will be reevaluated before the next season. All end-of-season production reports remain.

The following reports will see reductions or eliminations:

  • Vegetables — reduce to one in-season report;
  • Apple — forecast in October only (eliminate March preliminary summary and August report);
  • Apricot — forecast in July only (eliminate June report);
  • Cherry production — publish in June only (eliminate forecast in June crop production);
  • Grape — forecast in August only (eliminate July and October reports);
  • Peach — forecast in August only (eliminate May, June and July reports);
  • Pear — forecast in August only (eliminate June report);
  • Pecan — forecast in October only (eliminate December report);
  • Banana revisions in May — eliminate;
  • Guavas in May — eliminate;
  • Papaya revisions in May — eliminate;
  • Prune forecast and revisions in June — eliminate; and
  • Prunes and plums forecast in August — eliminate.



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