Washington apple crop availability greater than expected

From Fresh Plaza | 20 April 2023

Overview of apples in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on April 19, 2023. 

There’s a lot of work ahead for the Washington apple industry as storage levels are quite a bit higher than initially anticipated. “While last year’s crop is significantly down in volume, packout rates were higher than expected, and inflation slowed velocity,” says Dan Davis with Starr Ranch Growers. Due to rising prices, people are forced to be more selective in their purchasing.

“In addition, we weren’t as well aware of the size of the regional crops in Michigan and New York,” Davis added. Both states had sizeable crops and as a result, the Washington apple crop was mistakenly managed as a smaller crop. “We now need to find a way to transition to the next crop as it is on the horizon.”

No conventional apple imports

Supplies of a few organic apple varieties will be depleted before harvest of the new crop starts. As a result, some organic varieties will be imported from South America. From a conventional apple perspective however, there is no variety that won’t last until harvest of the new crop starts. This means there is not much need for offshore apples. “We have good relationships with our partners in South America and share our dialogues,” said Davis. “We made them well aware that there is no need to import conventional apples this year.” With the Chilean crop being down dramatically this season, the country wouldn’t have been able to send much fruit anyways. However, the fruit South America has available for exports will go to other markets this season.

Lower supplies in Chile are caused by replanting and many of these new orchards haven’t reached maturity yet. In addition, the country made some conscious choices during the past few seasons. “They are focusing more on the processing market as it has been generating robust pricing.”

apple volumes by origin

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

Small export volumes

Exports of Washington apples are low. “While we are shipping to many regions of the world, volumes are minimal,” commented Davis. “We would like to see the export business pick up, but it’s an ongoing evolution.” Different regions ask for different varieties. Currently, Gala and Fuji are shipped to different parts of Asia while Red Delicious is more popular in the Middle East. Demand for Pink Lady comes from the Middle East and Israel.


When asked to provide an outlook for the upcoming season, Davis said it’s too early to say anything. “It is a unique and delayed spring that’s causing the trees to run behind on bloom.” Normally, all trees would be in full bloom now, but almost no tree has reached blooming stage yet. “We are about 17-20 days behind at this point. As a result, we are way behind our normal ability to say anything meaningful this time of year. It will be a wait-and-see situation for the next month.”

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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