“Larger Washington apple crop offers opportunities”

From Fresh Plaza | 12 October 2023

Overview of apples from Washington in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on October 10, 2023.

It’s peak apple season in Washington state. Traditionally, October is a big harvest month and for Washington Fruit Growers it’s even bigger this year. Recently, the company started a partnership with Gilbert Orchards and became the exclusive marketer of Gilbert’s fruit. “Washington Fruit Growers is now one of the larger tree fruit companies in the Yakima Valley and an important pillar of the Yakima economy,” says Dan Davis with Washington Fruit Growers. Davis recently joined the company as Director of Business Development. Washington Fruit Growers already represented the sales and marketing arm of Mount Adams Fruit Co., Roche Fruit, and Washington Fruit and Produce Co. All the major apple packing lines are within 11 miles of each other.


The partnership results in a compelling variety mix of both organic and conventional apples. “Organic makes up about 25 percent of our core varieties,” mentioned Davis. While the company is heavily focused on organic Honeycrisp and organic Cosmic Crisp, other varieties with a significant organic share include Gala, Fuji, and Granny Smith. “All in all, we represent nearly 20 percent of the state’s organic apple crop,” Davis shared.

apple volumes by type in

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Cosmic crisp and other varieties

Not only has the partnership expanded Washington Fruit Growers’ organic position. “In terms of varieties, we have gained a significant position in Cosmic Crisp,” Davis shared. Although it is still a new and growing variety, a lot of early plantings have reached full production goals. In addition to volume, quality has become more consistent throughout the years. Washington Fruit Growers offers 12-month supply of Cosmic Crisp. “This is not only because we are a significant grower, it’s also driven by the fact that Cosmic Crisp is a very good storing apple. What also helps is that growers are getting better at storing the variety after a couple seasons.”

Davis is very optimistic about this year’s Pacific Northwest apple crop. “The eating quality has been fantastic,” he said. “It’s been a couple years since we raised a crop this good. It’s a wonderful opportunity to promote apples over other commodities after some down crops in recent years.” Up until now, the weather has also been favorable. “There is a great contrast between daytime highs and nighttime lows, which is important for apples to color up.”

Quantity wise, it is a robust crop that is up in volume from last year. “We are nearing the mid-harvest point and there are some signs that the crop may not be as big as initially anticipated.” This is driven by the fact that some apple varieties are smaller in size and production volume is about 5 to 10 percent short of the initial estimate. Davis mainly referred to earlier varieties like Galas and Honeycrisp. At the same time, it is still early to tell how things will play out.


A significant portion of Washington Fruit Growers’ apple sales have been export oriented. “Due to the smaller crop size, the export market has been somewhat less utilized in recent years,” said Davis. “This larger crop in combination with Indian tariffs being lifted, offers opportunities to further explore the export market. Depending on the variety, we are looking to export a healthy amount to destinations everywhere.” Fuji tends to be preferred in Taiwan while the Vietnamese appreciate Gala. In addition, Mexico and Central America are key export destinations.

Next week, Washington Fruit Growers will be exhibiting at IFPA’s Global Produce & Floral Show in Anaheim on October 20 and 21. “We are eagerly anticipating the event and looking forward to telling our customers and potential customers about the changes in the company,” finished Davis. Visit Washington Fruit Growers at booth 839.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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