CHICAGO — U.S. Apple Association members project a 248.3 million carton crop for 2017-18, which would be 8% smaller than last year but right on the 5-year average.

“There’s every reason to be optimistic about this year’s apple crop,” said Mark Nicholson, co-owner of Red Jacket Orchards, Geneva, N.Y.

The estimate is only 400,000 42-pound cartons lower than the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate from a few weeks ago.

The estimate came at the conclusion of the association’s annual Apple Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference, Aug. 24-25 in Chicago.

The Washington crop is estimated at 159.5 million cartons, 1% higher than the 5-year average but 8% smaller than last season.

New York’s crop is estimated at 28 million cartons, 1% above the 5-year average and nearly the same as last year’s production.

Michigan is forecast at 20.3 million cartons, 12% smaller than the 5-year average, and 27% smaller than last year.

Overall, the East region is forecast at 8% higher than last year; Midwest 10% lower than last year and the West 9% lower than last year.