FRESNO, Calif. — California apple growers expect a stronger market this fall.

“It looks like the pipeline is open for us this year,” said Alex Ott, executive director of the Fresno-based California Apple Commission.

“There’s not a lot of Southern Hemisphere fruit. The last two seasons were really bad with a lot of fruit out there and poor weather. This year the weather’s been great.”

As September starts, the month-long California gala apple deal has ended. Early fujis and granny smiths are hitting the market. Cripps pink comes out in late September. The deal finishes by November.

Andy Poteete, sales manager for Bakersfield-based Bidart Bros. Marketing, said the gala deal is active.

“The country’s pretty well clean,” he said.

“There’s not a lot of product in the pipeline. Washington is pretty much done and there are not as many imports.”

Quality is up on granny smiths, Poteete said.

“We’ve got a nice granny crop,” he said.

“We think it’s cleaner and hopefully there’s a better pack out this year. There’s less russeting, less sunburn, it just looks really nice. Possibly because of the milder weather.”

But overall volume for California apples is down to an estimated 2.7 million boxes, Ott said.

“We’re normally 3 to 4 million boxes,” he said.

“This year we’ve seen a lot of acreage go into the ground, but we’ve also seen a drop in volume because that acreage isn’t producing yet. A lot of folks are changing over to earlier varieties.”

Projected totals are 1.2 million boxes of granny smith; 350,000 of fujis; 160,000 of cripps pink; 960,000 of galas; and 55,000 of other varieties.