The Washington State Tree Fruit Association's annual forecast puts production slightly lower than the 2017-18 season. ( File photo )

Washington apple marketers are forecasting a fresh crop of 131 million 40-pound boxes in the 2018-19 season, a 2% drop from the previous crop of 134 million boxes.

The numbers, from the Washington State Tree Fruit Association, were released Aug. 7.

“The 2018 Washington state apple crop looks to be slightly smaller than last year’s crop but will still deliver an abundant supply of delicious apples for consumers to enjoy this year,” Jon DeVaney, association president, in a news release. “Harvest has started for some early varieties, and growers anticipate a crop of excellent quality fruit. Members also report improved sizing over 2017.”

Gala is projected to be the top variety in terms of production, according to the association, with an estimated 24% of overall apple produciton, according to the release. Red delicious is next, with projected volume of 21.5%.

Granny Smith production is forecast to be 13%, just half a percent lower than fuji’s predicted share. Honeycrisp is forecast at 10.8% of the crop, and Cripps Pink is at 4.5%

Fruit sizes for Washington apples are projected at least one size bigger than the 2017 crop, said George Harter, vice president of marketing for CMI Orchards, Wenathcee, Wash. That should give retailers who merchandise bulk Washington apples more tonnage and a higher ring this year, he said.

CMI was harvesting organic galas on Aug. 9 and conventional gala harvest was expected to start up by mid-August.

With sizes increasing compared with a year ago, the state should have a “solid” crop to market, said Brent Steensma, sales and marketing representative for Honey Bear Fruit Co., Wenatchee, Wash. Fresh market volume isn’t expected much different from a year ago, with packout this year expected to be in the 130-million-box range, he said.

More organic apples will available to consumers, pegged to be 14% of the total (18.9 million boxes). However, it’s typical that not all produce grown under organic-certified conditions are marketed as such, according to the release.

The association’s forecast is based on a member survey, representing the volume of apples that will be packed and sold on the fresh market, according to the release. Harvest is expected to begin in August and end in November.

Editor-in-chief Tom Karst contributed to this article.

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