The approach of the U.S. Apple Association Aug. 21-22 meeting later this week will be another chance for me to make the short hop to Chicago for an industry event, following earlier trips for the United Fresh Produce Expo and last week’s Midwest Produce Expo.
Of course, the main topic of conversation, the “big reveal,” if you will, is the size of the U.S. apple crop. Industry leaders will gather and make their own estimates to compare and contrast with the USDA’s August crop estimate. If you remember last year, the industry was flying blind because the USDA nixed the August crop production forecast because of sequestration money troubles. Not so this year; the industry will have a full sheet of government stats to pick apart and improve.
To preview that discussion, let’s look at the USDA’s August forecast of the U.S. apple crop, which was released Aug. 12.
From the USDA crop production report:
United States apple production for the 2014 crop year is forecast at 10.9 billion pounds, up 8 percent from 2013. Production in the Western States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Washington) is forecast at 7.33 billion pounds, up 13 percent from last year. Washington growers experienced a normal growing season with good irrigation supplies.
Production in the Eastern States (Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia) is forecast at 2.29 billion pounds, up 7 percent from last year.
Production in the Central States (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin) is forecast at 1.27 billion pounds, a decrease of 12 percent from last year. Michigan growers reported a variable crop with different prospects by regions. The northwest and west central areas of the State reported good yields, while in the southern region many growers reported damaged trees from extremely low wind chills last winter. Ohio production was diminished this year due to below normal temperatures during critical growing stages.
TK: Getting beyond the USDA’s cumbersome use of pounds — the industry still prefers to convert the crop into 42-pound bushels - the 2014 crop has been pegged at 259.5 million bushels.. The 2014 U.S. crop won’t be a record - the 1998 crop hit 277 million bushels - but it is no slacker, either.