Shocking red: What happened to small apple crop?

12/11/2012 07:28:00 AM
Tom Karst

National Editor Tom KarstSitting at the kitchen table and surfing the Interweb this morning before I jump back in the reliable 1997 Honda Civic and motor to work, I notice that the U.S. Apple storage numbers reported by The Packer's Andy Nelson show that total U.S. apple holdings are way up.

The December storage report show that total U.S. apple holdings are up 9% from a year ago, despite short crops from Michigan and New York this year. The report showed about 103 million bushels of fresh-market apples had yet to shipped as of Dec. 1, up from 95 million bushels on Dec. 1, 2011, and also 9% higher than the five-year average.

From Andy's coverage:

Freeze-related losses in Michigan and New York continue to be offset by an expected record crop in Washington. By variety, about 34 million bushels of fresh-market red delicious had yet to be shipped as of Dec. 1, up from 31.5 million bushels last year at the same time.

Holdings also were up for other major varieties. Galas rose from 16.2 million to 17.6 million bushels, fujis from 10.4 million to 17 million bushels, golden delicious from 10 million to 11.1 million bushels and granny smiths from 10.3 million to 10.8 million bushels.

I didn't see this number in Andy's coverage but I read in another report that the Washington fresh apple crop is close to 130 million cartons, up from an initial estimate of 109 million cartons. Bigger than projected size had a great deal to do with the upsized crop in Washington state.

Amazingly, the Washington fresh crop is 20 million cartons more than the previous record output despite a significant swatch of hail.

If apple marketers in Washington state thought they could put sales on autopilot this year, the new storage report is certainly a jolt. Prices for Washington Extra Fancy red delicious 72s have sagged from $24-26 in mid-October to $20-22 per carton on Dec. 10.

Even so, diminishing volume from the East and Midwest should create outstanding movement and promotion opportunities for apple marketers going forward. And exports are doing well, running well ahead of last year's pace.

For all apple marketers, the "short " crop in 2012 may lead to a tremendously large crop of U.S. apples in 2013, with expectations that the East and Midwest growing areas will bounce back and Washington state will continue its ascending fresh production.

Shock and awe for apple growers, but good for consumers.

In other apple related news, check out the recent voluntary recall of sliced apples by Freshway Foods here.



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