Windstorms, wildfires and a revision of yields on trees is dropping Washington apple crop production estimates for the 2020-21 season by 5-10%, according to the Washington Apple Commission.
The first estimate of the season in early August, by the Washington State Tree Fruit Association, was about 134 million 40-pound boxes of apples, on par with the 133 million for the previous season, according to the Washington Apple Commission, Wenatchee.
Over Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5-7, a windstorm knocked apples from trees, and some growers reported damage to trellis systems, according to a commission news release. Wildfires, fueled by the wind in Western states, produced “intense smoky conditions, delaying harvest a few days as some areas have had to halt operations,” according to the release.
Gala harvest started in late August and have moved to Honeycrisp orchards by mid-September. Washington apple harvest generally starts in mid-August and lasts into November. Red delicious, fuji and Cosmic Crisp are harvested in October and the season ends with granny smith, and Cripps Pink (Pink Lady) end the season, according to the release.
“Demand for Washington apples has been high in response to elevated health-conscious and bulk-purchase behavior by consumers,” according to the release. “Volume of apples shipped during this time period is slightly lower than last season, but overall movement is good. Suppliers are working hard to meet the demand and keep on pace with season goals.”
Tim Kovis, communications manager for the Washington State Tree Fruit Association, said in an e-mail that the association traditionally re-evaluates the crop production once harvest has concluded and fruit is in storage.
"We will survey our members around the first of October to see how their crop estimates may have changed," Kovis said in the e-mail.