Big crop is good timing for Washington apple marketers

05/29/2012 09:03:00 AM
Tom Karst

“We have already talked to our partners about how we can supplement or have an alternate (promotion) plan so they don’t lose category sales,” he said.

Pepperl predicts more bulk sales of size 88s and larger Washington apples before Christmas, which he said will result in sales increases for retailers.

Randy Steensma, president and export marketing director of Nuchief Sales Inc., Wenatchee, predicts a big increase in fujis, galas and Honeycrisp, with granny smith also expected to climb some. Honeycrisp volume could climb from about 3.8 million cartons to more than 5 million cartons, he said.

Hail, freeze damage

Michigan and Ontario have reported crop losses of 50% or more, and industry sources said western New York’s apple country have also been hard hit.

Southwest Michigan may not have much more than 5% of a normal apple fruit crop, Winkel said.

“It’s gone,” he said May 23. “You won’t crank up storages because there won’t be anything to store.”

The region typically grows about 15% of the state’s apple crop. Shippers in other regions of the state declined to provide an estimate of losses until later in the growing season.

Not all growing areas in the Midwest and East were as badly damaged by late April freezes. New York’s Hudson Valley and the Champlain Valley, New England and the mid-Atlantic still expect good crops.

Jim Allen, president of the Fishers-based New York Apple Association, said he could not give a loss figure from low temperatures this spring.

“We have such a variation in crop and crop set across the state,” he said. Even areas that were hard hit with frost show more promise than two weeks ago, he said.

In the mid-Atlantic region, one large marketer said crop prospects were good.

“We have a very nice crop of apple on the trees,” said Brenda Briggs, vice president of marketing for Rice Fruit Co., Gardners, Pa.

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