CHICAGO — Despite smaller crops in Washington, New York and Pennsylvania, 2011 U.S. apple production is expected to be up thanks to a much larger Michigan crop.

About 227.5 million bushels of U.S. apples are expected for the 2011-12 season, 3% more than last season and right at the five-year average, according to the Vienna, Va.-based U.S. Apple Association, which released the forecast Aug. 19 at its annual Apple Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference.

Michigan boosts apple volume estimateThe U.S. Apple estimate is higher than the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast, which estimated the 2011-12 total at about 226.5 million bushels.

According to the association, industry leader Washington is expected to produce about 130 million bushels, 2% less than last year and on par with the five-year average. The USDA projects Washington to produce 128.6 million bushels.

The Washington crop was running 10 days to two weeks late in late August, thanks to a cool, wet spring, said Dan Kelly, assistant manager of the Wenatchee-based Washington Growers Clearing House, who presented the Western U.S. estimate to conference attendees.

“We usually get eight inches of rain in a typical year, and this year we had an inch in two days,” Kelly said. “We had a lot more moisture, and it was 10 degrees cooler than normal.”

New York, the second-largest producer, is projected to produce about 30 million bushels, 1% less than last season and 3% under the five-year average. The USDA projects New York to produce 29.8 million bushels.

U.S. Apple projects Michigan, the No. 3 producer, to produce about 26 million bushels, 86% more than last year and 38% above the 5-year average. The USDA projects Michigan to produce 25 million bushels.

Despite the big crop, the size profile of Michigan apples should be good, said Mike Rothwell, president and general manager of BelleHarvest Sales Inc., Belding, Mich., who presented the Midwest crop estimate.

Pennsylvania is expected to produce about 10 million bushels, 15% less than last year and 12% under the five-year average. The USDA projects Pennsylvania to produce 10.6 million bushels.

The Eastern apple-growing season was marked by unpredictable weather, said George Lamont of Waterport, N.Y.-based Premier Apple Cooperative, who presented the report on that region.

“If you wanted wet, dry, hot, we had it,” he said. “It was unusual from beginning to end.”

A 10-day stretch of 100-plus weather in Virginia and rain during bloom in Western New York were among the more notable examples, Lamont said.

According to both U.S. Apple and the USDA, the next largest producers in 2011 will be, in order, California, Virginia, North Carolina and Oregon.