Steensma said Honeycrisp could reach 10 million cartons out of the state of Washington easily, not to mention other states that are also increasing output.
“It will be probably be 15 million or 20 million boxes nationwide, and probably in the next five or six years,” he said.
A survey released in August from the Washington Agricultural Statistics Service indicated that Honeycrisp non-bearing acreage is substantial. In fact, the survey showed that as of Jan. 1 this year, there were 3.1 million non-bearing Honeycrisp trees planted — or almost a quarter of all non-bearing apple trees in the state and second only to 4.3 million for fuji. The number of bearing Honeycrisp apple trees was rated at 3.8 million, ranking it behind gala (18.5 million), fuji (17.5 million), red delicious (13.4 million), granny smith (10.4 million) and golden delicious (4.8 million).
Young Honeycrisp trees produce fruit that peaks on 56s and 64s and 72s, but older trees settle down to produce fruit peaking on 88s, 80s and 100s, he said.
“With all the young blocks coming on, there is still a huge supply of 56s and 64s,” he said.
Steensma said the Honeycrisp target f.o.b. levels are in the $50-55 range for the extra fancy premium grade. Fruit that came out of controlled atmosphere storage as late as March reached prices as high as $60-70 per carton.
Wolter said Honeycrisp volume for Rainier is expected to grow 20% this year and she anticipates availability through the end of May.
Promotions for Honeycrisp are sought after by retailers, but perhaps the most challenging problem for shippers is balancing packing house time between varieties, Steensma said.
“It takes an industry to fill up some of these ads, especially galas,” he said.
“The demand for galas, when it gets rocking and rolling, is 600,00 to 700,000 cartons per weeks, which just a few of us could not cover.
“It takes a lot of packers to fill up the demand on so many varieties,” he said.
In late September and October, the industry trys to fill the pipeline with many varieties.
“There are so many hours in the day to pack so you tend to jump from variety to variety to variety and there is probably a lack of machine time,” Steensma said.