With harvest heading into the home stretch for Washington organic apples and pears in the final week of October, growers raced to get all of their fruit in before the weather turned.
Blake Belknap, organic sales manager for Rainier Fruit Co. in Selah, Wash., said the company still had about 25% of its organic apples to bring in as of Oct. 24, mostly Fujis and Pink Lady varieties. Unusual weather earlier this year resulted in about a two week delay for the most of Rainier’s fruit, but Belknap said that just means the “in” season will last a bit longer.
“The long season and steady volumes should mean good prices,” Belknap said, adding that Rainier shipped about 7 million cases of organic apples last year.
Further north, at Stemilt Growers LLC in Wenatchee, Wash., almost 20% of the crop was still not in as of Oct. 26, according to Roger Pepperl, marketing director. Although volumes are good, Pepperl said the apples are a bit smaller this season.
“The 72 to 88 range should have firm prices,” Pepperl said. “The real value will be with the 113s and smaller.”
Pepperl said the organic pear crop “didn’t fare well” this year. But, lower volumes would mean higher prices for growers. He said organic pears are particularly challenging to grow because of problems with fire blight and pests.