2021 Washington apple harvest estimated to be 124.85 million boxes

For the Basin Business Journal | September 18, 2021 1:00 AM

ashington State Tree Fruit Association (WSTFA) is estimating the state’s 2021 fresh apple crop at roughly 125 million 40-pound boxes.

This would be an increase of 2.3% from the 2020 crop of 122 million boxes, but a decline of 7.2% from the 2019 crop of 134.5 million boxes, according to a WSTFA press release.

“The 2021 Washington state apple crop looks to be similar in size to last year’s crop. Growing seasons are never the same, and currently many WSTFA members are still evaluating the impact of this summer’s adverse and variable weather conditions,” said WSTFA President Jon DeVaney. “Members have made their best attempt to incorporate these factors, but with harvest just beginning and several months of unknown weather ahead, further reductions in the size of the forecasted crop are possible.”

DeVaney said that despite the summer heat and the drought, growers still expect to meet demand for apples.

“This crop reflects the continued growth of new varieties to delight all consumer tastes combined with the high standards of quality that domestic and international consumers have come to expect,” he said.

According to the association, for the third year in a row, Gala will be the most numerous variety at 21%, Red Delicious is projected at 16%, followed by Honeycrisp and Granny Smith at 14%, and Fuji at 13% of total production. This year, Cosmic Crisp is forecast to come in at 3% of the total crop, a 114% increase from the 2020-21 crop, and Cripps Pink at 6%.

Organic apple production is forecast to be 12.3% of the total, or 15.36 million boxes. This is essentially unchanged from the 15.6 million boxes in the 2020 apple crop, but the WSTFA said it should be noted that typically not all organic production is ultimately packed and marketed as organic.

This forecast is based on a survey of association members, and represents a best estimate of the total volume of apples that will eventually be packed and sold on the fresh market. The estimate does not include apples sent to processors, the association said.

Apple harvest typically begins in August and continues into November, and as a result this forecast is still subject to several months of variable weather, which can affect the final harvest total.