6. Topsy-turvy apple production

12/28/2012 12:07:00 PM
Chuck Robinson

In January, Denise Donohue, then-executive director of the Lansing-based Michigan Apple Committee, said she expected strong demand to exceed the supply of Michigan apples.

She had no idea then how right her prognostication would be.

An early spring warmup followed by a cold snap knocked many Michigan growers out of the market. Ontario growers also were hit and New York’s apple production was cut in half.

With all that lost supply, it’s amazing that there are so many apples in storage this fall.

Despite crop damage from a July hailstorm, Washington is expected to ship 120 million boxes, which would be the largest ever from the state.

Dec. 1 holdings were 9% more than at the same time last year and 9% above the five-year average, according to the Vienna, Va.-based U.S. Apple Association.

 

The bad news for grower-shippers in some regions began coming in in April.

April 23

Cold snap threatens Michigan apple orchards

By Andy Nelson, Markets Editor

Freezing weather has kept Michigan apple growers busy protecting their crops, but as of April 18, damage was limited.

The industry won’t be out of range of dangerously cold weather, however, until about mid-May.

 

May 14

Ontario, U.S. apple crops hurt by late April freezes

By Andy Nelson, Markets Editor

Freezing temperatures at the end of April could have a devastating effect on Ontario apple crops, and U.S. grower-shippers also were affected.

Temperatures that dipped into the 20s caused widespread damage to Ontario’s apple orchards, said Kelly Ciceran, general manager of the Vineland-based Ontario Apple Growers.

That cold snap followed an abnormally warm March, which caused trees to bloom a month earlier than normal, exposing them to late freezes.

All Ontario growers were affected by the freezes, and some lost their entire crops, according to the association. About 16,000 acres of apples are grown in Ontario each year.

 

May 21

Michigan apple loss reaches past 50%

By Andy Nelson, Markets Editor

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — More than half of Michigan’s apple crop — possibly much more — could be lost because of late April freezes, and the state’s southwestern fruit production is nearly a total loss.

 

May 28

Washington growers get lucky with big apple crop

By Tom Karst, National Editor

Washington apple marketers are poised to fill major supply gaps in the East and Midwest this fall with what is expected to be a record crop.

Unoffically weighing in at nearly 120 million cartons — more than 10 million cartons larger than the previous record — the crop will result in shifting promotions as retailers balance much smaller New York and Michigan crops, the perennial second- and third-largest producers, respectively.

 

June 11

Michigan requests disaster aid

By Markets Editor Andy Nelson

Michigan’s governor has requested federal disaster assistance for growers affected by extreme weather this winter and spring.

Losses stemming from freezes that followed unseasonably warm weather, combined with losses from other weather-related problems, could cost Michigan farmers $223.5 million, Gov. Rick Snyder said in a news release from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

While most vegetables escaped relatively unscathed, apples and other tree fruit suffered significant damage, particularly from temperatures in the low 20s at the end of April.

 

July 16

Short crop cuts into apple slices

By Tom Karst, National Editor

With retail sales of fresh-cut apple slices rising and demand from quick-service restaurants growing, processors and marketers of apple slices are bracing for a smaller national apple crop and the expectation of higher prices.

Total U.S. apple output for 2012-13 was forecast at 190 million bushels in a June industry estimate, below the five-year average of 224.5 million bushels. What’s more, apple crops in important Midwest and Eastern producing regions — home to several large fresh-cut apple processors — are disproportionately hurt.

 

Things could have taken an even worse turn, as far as supply is concerned, when hail threatened Washington’s apple production.

July 30

Hail damages Washington apples

By Andy Nelson, Markets Editor

Hail in Washington on July 20 likely will put a dent, and possibly a significant one, in the state’s 2012-13 apple crop.

 

Aug. 13

Washington apples expect 109 million-box crop

By Andy Nelson, Markets Editor

Hail put a dent in the 2012 Washington apple crop, but it’s still on track to be the one of the largest fresh-market crops in the state’s history.

About 109 million boxes are expected to ship from Washington this season, according to an Aug. 7 estimate from the Yakima, Wash.-based Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association and the Wenatchee, Wash.-based Wenatchee Valley Traffic Association.

 

Aug. 27

Retail apple prices rise heading into harvest

By Tom Karst, National Editor

Amid concerns about sustaining consumer demand through the fall, U.S. retail apple prices continue to rise.

The U.S. city average retail price for red delicious apples was $1.44 per pound in July, up from $1.38 per pound in June and up from $1.37 per pound in July 2011, according to the Commerce Department.

 

The apple growers in areas hard hit by Mother Nature may have something to look forward to next year.

Sept. 3

Next year could see a bumper crop

By Tom Karst, National Editor

If historical trends are any indication, Michigan apple growers will have a big bounce-back year in 2013. Michigan’s apple output was 14 million bushels in 2008, rising to 27 million bushels in 2009, dropping again to 13.5 million bushels in 2010. That smaller crop was followed by the big crop of 23.4 million bushels last year and the paltry 2.5 million bushel crop forecast for this year.

 

Washington’s strong volume finish seems miraculous, given the production threats of the growing season. Imagine what prices might have been had other growing areas not been stricken by crop-crippling weather.

Nov. 19

Despite regional losses, apple holdings up 4%

By Andy Nelson, Markets Editor

A huge Washington apple crop - expected to be a record-breaker - is having little trouble making up for severe crop losses in Michigan and New York, though prices have been higher.

“We’ve more than made up for the shortfall in Michigan, New York and eastern Canada,” said Howard Nager, vice president of marketing for Yakima, Wash.-based Domex Superfresh Growers.



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Denise Donohue    
DeWitt, Michigan  |  January, 08, 2013 at 04:11 PM

Honestly, that's not what I meant! Who ever thought this level of devastation would happen?!

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