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

“It looks like there should be an amply supply of a good-quality crop,” he said.

“Fruit size is back to more what we’re used to out here. Last year, the sizing was one to two sizes larger, and this year is more average-sized.”

The weather has cooperated throughout the growing season, on the whole, Mansfield said.

“No real issues there,” he said.

“There’s occasional hail, but it’s always localized. Where it happens it’s not good, but it doesn’t really affect the overall volume of the crop.”

In Pennsylvania, growers expected to reach the normal volume of 10 million to 11 million bushels, said Karin Rodriguez, executive director of the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program.

“The crop looks pretty good — maybe slightly smaller than last year’s — but it shouldn’t make a huge difference,” she said.

“We’ve got a nice crop. Our timing is about normal and we should have about the same amount of fruit as last year.”

John Rice, president of Gardners, Pa.-based Rice Fruit Co., said he anticipates a leaner crop.

“We won’t have one of our bigger fruit crops,” he said.

“We had a light fruit set on account of a cool and cloudy spring, so we’re dealing with some reduced volumes. We expect to have maybe 80% of a full crop. It’s a different year than we’ve had in recent years.”

Demand for apples should be brisk this year, said David Benner, general manager of Fairfield, Pa.-based El Vista Orchards.

“I think price will be up across the board from last year, on processing and fresh,” he said.

Virginia growers said they expect to come close to their volume norm, 5 million to 6 million bushels.

“Everything so far is going pretty well,” said Alex Jeffries, manager of Markham, Va.-based Stribling Orchard.

“We’ve done our best fighting all the insects and everything. I think the only thing we’re scared of is all those stink bugs. We had it pretty bad last year. It seems to be the fall when we see them mostly, but they do damage early in the fruit.”

The outlook was positive for Jamie Williams, president of Turkey Knob Apples Inc., Timberville, Va.

“We’ve got a good, solid crop,” he said.

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