Mother Nature's wrath spares Eastern apple growers - The Packer

Mother Nature's wrath spares Eastern apple growers

08/26/2011 02:53:00 PM
Dan Gailbraith

Potential Hurricane Irene damage aside, weather has caused little problem for apple growers in the East.

Growers and shippers in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia said they anticipate near-normal production and acceptable returns for their products during the upcoming season.

“I think we’re in a very good, strong position in New York,” said Jim Allen, president of the Fishers-based New York Apple Association.

“We had excellent return bud and bloom. We didn’t have the perfect pollination conditions, but it helped us do natural thinning.”

New York growers should approach their five-year average of just under 30 million bushels this season, Allen said.

The U.S. Apple Association estimated New York’s crop at 30 million bushels at its annual Apple Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference in mid-August in Chicago.

“We were getting nice rains right and they continued to grow nicely with the heat,” Allen said.

“This time of year, that’s great for apples. Later in the season, when they become mature, it would be a problem, but it helps them when they’re growing.”

New York got an early start on its apple deal a year ago, but this year, it’s on schedule, Allen said.

“What that means is we get into the big volume of our season about the end of August,” he said.

Picking of some early regional varieties started in mid-August, Allen said.

“We’ll be harvesting them throughout the state at the beginning of September,” he said, noting macintosh as the biggest of the early varieties.

Things were looking up for Geneva, N.Y.-based Red Jacket Orchards, said Brian Nicholson, president.

“We’re going to be definitely up from last year, but we had one of our smaller crops last year,” he said.

“It will be a very manageable crop, probably 20% over last year.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, on Aug. 22, cartons of extra fancy 12 3-pound film bags of 2½-inch minimum ginger golds sold for $21-22, and paula reds sold for $20-21.

Cartons of extra fancy cell packed ginger gold 80s received $24.

“Price seems to be very healthy for everyone,” Nicholson said.

“Everyone should be happy with the pricing — the retailers, the growers, the packers. Everyone sold out early last year. Michigan was so short last year, it tapped all their product and affected prices.”

Tim Mansfield, sales and marketing director with Sun Orchard Fruit Co. in Burt, N.Y., shared the optimism.

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