Apple crop forecast at about 131 million boxes

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YAKIMA — The 2018 Washington apple crop is projected to clock in at about 131 million boxes of fresh-packed fruit, according to the estimate released Tuesday by the Washington State Tree Fruit Association.

That’s apples packed in 40-pound boxes, which is the industry standard. If the projection holds, it will be smaller than the 2017 crop, which finished at 134 million boxes.

Organic production in 2018 is estimated at about 14 percent of the total, or about 18.9 million boxes. However, not all organic apples are packed and marketed as organic, according to the tree fruit association press release.

Apple harvest is already underway for some early varieties, the press release said. As everybody in apple country knows, it’s harvest, and it will be harvest – the busy, crazy time of year – until the late varieties go into the warehouse in early November.

Harvest 2018 also arrives at a time of turmoil. The country is involved in trade disputes, and – disputes being what they are – apples and other agriculture products are among the commodities caught in the middle.

Growers report that fruit size is improved over 2017, said Jon DeVaney, tree fruit association president. “Growers anticipate a crop of excellent quality fruit.”

The forecast is “based on a survey of WSTFA members, and represents a best estimate of the total number of apples that eventually will be packed and sold on the fresh market,” the press release said. That’s fresh fruit, and doesn’t include apples sold on the process market.

Things evolve, apple production among them. For 2018, the Gala is the most numerous variety, projected to be about 24 percent of state production. Red Delicious is second, with about 21.5 percent of apple production.

Fujis are estimated at about 13.5 percent of production, with Granny Smith at about 13 percent. Honeycrisp is projected to be about 10.8 percent of production. The Cripps Pink variety will makeup about 4.5 percent of production.

But there’s still a long way to go to November. “This forecast is still subject to several months of variable weather, which can affect the final harvest total.”

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