Good Fruit Grower

April 1

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20 APRIL 1, 2015 GOOD FRUIT GROWER B ruce Allen has been growing Honeycrisp apples in Washington State for almost 14 years and is still learning how to best grow it. Each Honeycrisp orchard seems to vary, he says, and it's a struggle to hit 15 packs per bin of Honeycrisp. Although Allen tries to sort fruit at harvest into different quality categories to help with postharvest storage management, doing so is very diffi cult because of the size and quality differences within each block. "We grow way too many big Honeycrisp," Allen told indus- try members attending a Honeycrisp seminar sponsored by Washington State University. The session was in conjunction with the Washington State Horticultural Association's annual meeting. Allen has been an apple grower in Yakima, Washington, since 1974 and is owner of Columbia Reach, a tree fruit packer-shipper also located in Yakima. During a grower panel discussion, he said it's easy to get 19 packs per bin with Gala apples, a number that gives a gross return of around $400 per bin. In comparing Honeycrisp profi tability to Gala, Allen gave the following scenario: Honeycrisp, at 11 to 12 packs per bin that sell for $40 per pack (box), will return a gross of $440 to $480 per bin, before packing charges. But after packing charges, the grower return can shrink to around $280 per bin. "If you can hit 15 packs per bin, the picture is much prettier," he said. Gala, when selling at around $20 per box, will return about $180 after packing charges at 19 packs per bin. But if Gala sells for $25 per box, Allen said the potential return of around $275 per bin after packing charges is close to Honeycrisp returns—but without the horticultural and storage headaches that come with Honeycrisp. HONEYCRISP is still an enigma Growers have yet to unlock the horticultural secrets of growing Honeycrisp in a warm climate. by Melissa Hansen

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