Good Fruit Grower

October 2016

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6 OCTOBER 2016 Good Fruit Grower O ne year, Mother Nature shines on your orchards. The next, she wreaks havoc and shines on someone else. Therein lies the story of the U.S. Apple Association forecast for the 2016-17 crop: 246 million 42-pound bushels, both fresh and processed, a 3 percent increase from last year and 3 percent above the fi ve-year average. The largest portion of the crop will come from Washington, forecast at 149 million bushels, a state that experienced high temperatures the past two years and drought conditions last year but saw excellent growing conditions this season. Meanwhile, growers in the Northeast saw late spring storms and drought slice into their forecast. "The Eastern growing area can be summed up in one word, and unfor- tunately, that word is drought," Jim Allen, president and CEO of the New York Apple Association, told attendees at the U.S. Apple Association annual meeting in Chicago in August. Nine of the 11 states that contribute to the USApple forecast for the Eastern U.S. expected to see a decline in production this year, with the total forecast for the region down 10 percent to 53.8 million bushels In the Midwest, which estimated its 2016 crop at 34 million bushels, Michigan could see a record crop of 31 million bushels, a 31 percent increase over 2015 that would top the fi ve-year average by 49 percent "if it should come to be," said Mike Rothwell, president and general manager of BelleHarvest Sales. Overall, the West was forecast at nearly 158 million bushels, an increase of 5 percent from last season. Washington's forecast also would be an increase of 5 percent; after two years of hot, dry weather, Washington growers experienced excellent growing conditions with good size and color, said Jon DeVaney of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association. Bearing acreage for apples in the U.S. declined 16 percent from 2004 to 2015. However, yields per acre have increased 45 percent since 2003, thanks to the increasing number of high-density plantings, said Mark Seetin, director of regulatory policy and industry affairs for USApple. Nationally, Red Delicious remains the top crop, but production relative to other varieties was expected to con- tinue to decrease as other varieties increase their share of overall production. Gala, Granny Smith, Fuji and Golden Delicious round out the top fi ve varieties in the U.S. Last season, world apple production closed at about 77 million metric tons, with China accounting for 56 per- cent of the overall crop. Here's a snapshot of the apple crop forecast for other regions: Canada Canada estimated its 2016-17 crop at 17.1 million bushels, up 17 percent from last season and up 5 percent from the fi ve-year average. That estimate could increase more if Eastern growing regions received much-needed rain, said Don Werden with the Norfolk Fruit Growers' Association in Simcoe, Ontario. Ontario growers, who experienced good bloom but a dry growing season, forecast a crop of 7.1 million bush- els, which would be a 57 percent increase. McIntosh made up 25 percent of the crop, followed by Empire, Honeycrisp, Gala and Ambrosia. Quebec's crop was predicted to be 5.6 million bush- els, down 4 percent from 2015. Growers there got off to a good start, Werden said, with no frost and a good, strong bloom, but there was some fi re blight damage. Nova Scotia growers forecast a crop of 1.3 million bushels following a dry summer growing season, a dip of 3 percent from last year. Honeycrisp volume there continued to grow, at 325,000 bushels, comprising 25 percent of the crop, followed by Northern Spy, Cortland and Idared. British Columbia expected a very early crop, though the region experienced hail damage in some areas. Growers there forecast a 7.7 percent increase from last year, with Gala comprising 45 percent of the crop at 1.3 million bushels, followed by Ambrosia at 632,000 bushels. Across Canada, McIntosh made up 32 percent of the crop, while Gala comprised nearly 13 percent. Mexico Mexico expected another bumper crop: 31 million 20-kilogram boxes (roughly 44-pound boxes) a 15 per- cent increase from last year's 27 million boxes, accord- ing to Leighton Romney with the Paquime Group in Chihuahua. That's also 8.5 percent above the fi ve-year average. Strong growth was expected in Chihuahua, up 17 percent, and Coahuila and Durango, each up 10 percent. Mexico will consume somewhere around 40 million boxes — and consumption is growing — but consumer prices are high and apples are still a luxury item, he said. The dollar exchange rate also is still high, and there will be no tariffs on U.S. apples for 2016. Apples Drought in Eastern U.S. dampens outlook, but other U.S. regions are forecasting steady — or even larger — apple crops. by Shannon Dininny The Eastern growing area can be summed up in one word, and unfortunately, that word is drought." —Jim Allen Red Delicious apples in Wapato, Washington, in August. prospects Picking TJ MULLINAX/GOOD FRUIT GROWER

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