Washington apple harvest lower than anticipated

Staff Writer | December 1, 2021 1:00 AM

WENATCHEE — The Washington State Tree Fruit Association has lowered its estimate for the 2021 fresh apple crop.

In a press release issued on Nov. 9, the association forecast a 2021 fresh apple harvest of 118.26 million 40-pound boxes (or 4.7 billion pounds), down 5.3% from the August estimate of 124.85 million boxes (or 4.9 billion pounds).

The revised forecast is based on updated data reported by association members “that have picked a majority of the crop” and reflects fruit picked through the end of October, the press release said.

“Our members are reporting smaller crops of some varieties, including Honeycrisp, Galas and Red Delicious,” said WSTFA President Jon DeVaney in the press release. “High heat earlier in the season affected what was ultimately picked in some cases.”

DeVaney said the state’s organic fresh apple crop is still expected to be around 15 million boxes, and in spite of the smaller harvest, the association is “still seeing high-quality fruit” and there should be ample supplies of Washington fresh apples in 2022.

In August, USApple — a nationwide trade association representing U.S. apple growers — forecast the total U.S. apple crop in 2021 at around 11.1 billion pounds (or 256 million 40-pound boxes, though USApple measures the national apple harvest in 42-pound bushels), a nearly 6% decline from previous year’s production and a 9.4% decline from average apple output over the past five years.

The USApple forecast is around 21 million bushels lower than the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s estimates for the 2021 apple harvest.

According to USApple Director of Industry Analytics Chris Gerlach, the association’s figures “are more comprehensive than USDA data” and look at all apple-producing states, not merely the top seven.

According to USApple figures, Washington produces around 64% of the nation’s apple crop, followed by New York with 12%, Michigan with 7% and Pennsylvania with 4%. Gala apples, followed by Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, Fuji and Granny Smith are the top apple varieties in 2021, according to USApple.